Music has been used for thousands of years to treat psychological disturbances and physical illnesses. Research continues to demonstrate that this traditional knowledge has merit; music is an effective therapeutic intervention for mental health disorders and addiction. Clients can get multiple benefits from participating in this group therapy offered at Avalon Malibu. Learn a brief history of music as a therapy and how it can help individuals seeking treatment.
What Is Music?
Music, scientifically speaking, can be understood as the human organization of sound. Although, in reality, music can be so much more than that. The potential behind music cannot be understated when it comes to mental health and wellness.
People can purposefully create music to communicate ideas and emotions. It can also be found in nature through song and rhythm; for example, a mockingbird sings the song of others, and waves repeatedly crash into the shore.
Virtually every human civilization has been found to use music to:
- soothe babies
- express love
- and heal the sick
At first, music may seem like a relatively straightforward concept, but the science of music and its implications on human health can be fairly complex.
A Brief History of Music as Therapy
The therapeutic value of music has been common knowledge across early civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Israel, Arabia, India, and Greece. Musical therapy has been practiced throughout different periods in human history, like the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, and Greek Antiquity.
Examples From Pre-History
There are a plethora of examples of music being used for therapeutic reasons throughout ancient history.
Ancient Egyptians used musical incantations, whereas Greek physicians used musical instruments like the flute to heal people. Mental disturbances and sleep troubles were treated using vibrations. Both Plato and Confucius encouraged musical training for statemen, and a Greek god named Asclepius was said to have used music to conquer passion. Literature about the science of music from India goes back to the 4th century B.C. and discusses how ancient Hindus believed that uncontrolled thinking could be treated with sound.
The Old and New Testaments of the Bible corroborate these ideas in their references to music relieving fear, grief, and physical pain.
More Recent Times
Music has been a therapy for psychological (and physical) ailments for thousands of years and is still used today. Yet, it was not until the 19th and 20th centuries in the West that music was studied using the scientific method. Since then, music has progressed from having no backing from science to becoming an important area in neuroscience.
Music therapy has also gained prominence as an effective, evidence-based treatment for mental health disorders and addiction. Its effects make it an ideal method for those struggling with these conditions.
How Does Music Therapy Help?
Stress and other uncomfortable brain-related symptoms associated with behavioral and emotional disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression, and insomnia) can be alleviated using music. Early researchers found that music can activate the parasympathetic system and reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This helps the body rest and relax. They demonstrated that music can:
- increase cardiac output
- decrease pulse rate
- lower blood pressure
Other researchers explain that some types of music can provoke “peak experiences stimulating neural reward and emotion systems similar to those activated by drugs of abuse.” In other words, music can be used to help regulate emotions because of its ability to induce a pleasurable mood and lower the perception of pain. This can help individuals with addiction increase their resilience toward depression and withdrawal symptoms that can trigger a relapse.
Being able to regulate emotions is vital for a person’s well-being in general. While individuals cannot control having certain emotions come up, they can control how they process and react to them. Music can be a great tool for helping individuals to achieve this outcome.
Meeting Various Treatment Goals
Treatment facilities like Avalon Malibu understand that multiple treatment goals can be met by using music as a medium for healing. Clients often have physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs that must be addressed to recover from addiction or manage a mental health disorder.
In music therapy, a trained music therapist will help the client by “using music experiences and the relationships that develop through them as dynamic forces of change.” Clients may participate in activities like:
- listening to music
- discussing song lyrics
- writing their own music
- improvising instrumentally or vocally
- performing their pieces
- singing songs together
This form of therapy creates a communal healing experience when done in a group setting, opening up opportunities to connect with others experiencing similar challenges.
Music therapy is an evidence-based treatment for mental health disorders and addiction. The power of music has been used for centuries to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and physical pain. Music therapy can help clients form social bonds and improve their interpersonal skills in group settings. Located in Malibu, CA, Avalon Malibu is a treatment center for adults struggling with substance use disorders and mental health conditions. The Joint Commission accredits our programs and is nationally recognized. Music therapy is one of many therapeutic approaches we offer. Clinical and holistic modalities are provided to give clients options. They can try out different therapies to find what works for them. We believe that treatment is a living and flexible practice that evolves based on the current needs of each individual. We want to help our clients regain balance and choice in life. Call us to learn more: (844) 857-5992