The music we listen to says a lot about our likes and interests, our personality, our perceptions on life and also how we feel. There are a number of reasons why we may play certain songs or keep the station on the radio for a bit longer – and while sometimes it’s merely to pass the time, it’s often the case that we listen because we either feel a certain way or we want to feel a certain way. Consider the last time you were feeling depressed. Did you listen to positive, upbeat music or did you find yourself leaning towards songs that expressed pain and sadness? Human beings are vulnerable, and we desire to connect with others through emotional messages in music.
What is Music Therapy?
Duke University explains that music therapy is one of the most common forms of art therapy; as an evidence-based practice, music therapy has been used to help treat a variety of conditions, including substance use disorders (SUDs). When we listen to music and feel presently moved by it, our mind and body goes through a process; Duke explained, “Awareness of music is an active mental process, which means that our brain not only accept the fact that music is there, but also become aware of the situation and context when the music is played, and even react to the music by showing body movement.”
Music therapy is defined by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) as using musical interventions to accomplish “individual goals within a therapeutic relationship”. This definition is quite broad, in an attempt to acknowledge the wide range of needs that those in recovery may have. Music therapy is led by a licensed therapist who is train to lead activities such as:
- Playing an instrument
- Assessing the lyrics of a song
- Writing a song
- Composing a song
- Moving to music
For many people, this type of exploration can serve as a positive, unique enhancement to a typical treatment program.
Discovering Insights: Finding Ways to Heal
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Addiction Nursing explained that not only is music therapy relaxing, but it also can be incredibly useful for those in recovery who’ve experienced multiple relapses. Previous studies have found that movement to music can decrease intense feelings of depression, anxiety, stress and anger, which can boost a person’s recover immensely. Harvard Health notes that music therapy decreases pain perception and improves overall quality of life; depending on the technique used, there are a number of insights that clients can gain that work towards healing:
- Finding a new perspective towards a particular painful event in their life
- Discovering alternative ways to relate to music and apply it to moments of joy and distress
- Releasing painful emotions that’ve been held deep inside for too long
- The use of music as a way to relax and relieve anxiety
- And more
According to an article published by Social Work Today, music therapy can be used to, “…uncover the complicated web of catalysts that lead to their substance abuse”.
In many cases, music opens up an environment that makes it safer for patients to talk about their trauma and other difficult life circumstances. Music therapist Kathleen Killeen states: “Musical structure naturally fosters creativity.”
One individual who’d found great success in music therapy stated, “We learn that music industry stars who’ve been our idols are a lot like us if they’ve experienced addiction.”
These realizations make it easier for those in recovery to not only relate to their emotions, but it also makes it easier for them to relate to others and the world at large. Music is a universal practice that anyone can relate to – and sometimes working through music can help a person understand what they’ve gone through by feeling it through instruments played, the sincerity of a person’s voice when singing, or through singing how they feel themselves.
Comprehensive Treatment: Finding What Works
Music therapy offers individuals the chance to explore their thoughts and emotions in ways that otherwise wouldn’t be explored through traditional approaches. Sometimes the path towards healing isn’t about talking specifically about areas of our lives; in many cases, it’s through subtle activities that bring out that feeling to talk or experience emotion from being in the present moment. Music therapy can open up pathways to new understanding and a greater sense of identity – even peer support can be developed if offered in groups.
Holistic, comprehensive treatment should provide a number of options to help those in recovery find what works best for their mental, physical and spiritual health. If you’re ready to push past addiction and find greater happiness and health, speak with a professional from Avalon Malibu today. You’re not alone – and there’s a team of people who believe in your recovery.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.