What Does Music Therapy Treat?

What Does Music Therapy Treat?


Music therapy is a type of treatment that involves using music to improve physical, emotional, and social well-being. This treatment has numerous physical and mental benefits and helps in a wide variety of medical problems. Most important, it reduces stress, improves mood, and helps with communication. It also can lower both blood pressure and physical tension.

Music therapy uses the power of music to stimulate the brain and promote healing. It has the ability to activate multiple areas of the brain, including those responsible for memory, emotion, language, and motor function. As a result, music can be used to address a wide range of conditions and disorders.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy involves a trained therapist who uses music to help achieve a patient’s specific mental health goals. It can happen in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and counselors’ offices. This treatment can be delivered in different ways, depending on the person’s needs. The process can involve creating music in real time using instruments or simply listening to and appreciating music. You don’t need to have any musical experience or ability, either. Anyone can do it.

A music therapist may use live or recorded music, singing, songwriting, or dancing during a session. They may also have instruments, such as drums, guitars, or keyboards, for patients to use to encourage active participation and self-expression. Sessions can also integrate other forms of therapy as well, such as supportive therapy.

Benefits of music in treatment

Music therapy has a number of benefits that make it an effective form of treatment.

  1. Non-invasive: Music does not require medication or surgery. Additionally, it has no potential negative side effects, nor will it interfere with any other medical treatments the person is receiving.
  2. Versatile: Music can help treat a wide range of conditions. Even better, it’s incredibly adaptable. It can help people at any level of health and ability. Treatment providers can tailor music to meet the individual needs of each person.
  3. Accessible: The beauty of music is that it is for everyone. It’s available to individuals of all ages and abilities and can be provided in a variety of settings. Additionally, unlike many medical treatments, music is also very affordable.
  4. Engaging: Humans have been making and enjoying music for eons. It is part of the natural human experience. As a result, it is an incredibly engaging and enjoyable form of treatment that can help people while having fun.

What conditions can music therapy treat?

Music therapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including mental health disorders, neurological disorders, and physical disabilities.

1. Autism Spectrum Disorder

In autism, music therapy has been found to be effective in improving social skills and communication abilities. Studies have found that children with autism who received this treatment had significant improvements in not only communication but also in interactions with others and general behavior.5

2. Depression and anxiety:

Music can reduce symptoms by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and improving mood. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Music Therapy found that it was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.9

3. Dementia:

Some studies suggest that music therapy can both aid cognitive functioning and reduce behavioral symptoms in people with dementia. It can improve their general demeanor and lessen the symptoms of depression that often accompany dementia.7

4. Down Syndrome:

A review in the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research found that music not only helped improve cognitive functioning but also reduced problem behaviors in individuals with Down Syndrome.4

5. Trauma and PTSD:

Music can help people build resilience, reduce stress symptoms, and connect with their emotions. One study in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that music helped reduce symptoms of PTSD in people who had experienced traumatic events.4

6. Stroke:

Music therapy can be used to improve motor functioning, speech, and cognitive abilities in individuals. One study published in the Journal of Music Therapy found that stroke patients who received this treatment had significant improvements in motor function compared to those who didn’t.7

7. Chronic pain and cancer:

Music therapy is effective in reducing pain and improving mood in individuals with chronic pain. Additionally, a large review from the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that music interventions were effective in reducing anxiety and pain in cancer patients.3

Music therapy is a powerful clinical intervention that uses music to promote healing and well-being. It can address a wide range of conditions and disorders, including emotional and mental health issues, autism spectrum disorder, dementia, chronic pain, neurological disorders, and substance abuse and addiction. Music therapy offers a side-effect free, adaptable, and accessible form of treatment that is engaging and enjoyable for individuals of all ages and abilities. If you or a loved one is struggling with a health condition, consider exploring the benefits of music therapy.

  1. Aletraris, L., Paino, M., Edmond, M. B., Roman, P. M., & Bride, B. E. (2014). The Use of Art and Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs. Journal of addictions nursing, 25(4), 190.
  2. Amengual, J. L., Rojo, N., Veciana de Las Heras, M., & Marco-Pallares, J. (2013). Music-supported motor training after stroke reveals no superiority of synchronization in group therapy. Journal of Music Therapy, 50(1), 2-15.
  3. Bradt, J., Dileo, C., Grocke, D., & Magill, L. (2011). Music interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev., 21833957.
  4. Heiderscheit, A., & Zaman, H. (2014). Music therapy and individuals with Down syndrome: A systematic review. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 58(2), 97-108.
  5. LaGasse, A. B. (2014). Effects of a music therapy group intervention on enhancing social skills in children with autism. J. Music Ther., 25053766.
  6. Landis-Shack, N., Heinz, A. J., & Bonn-Miller, M. O. (2017). Music Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress in Adults: A Theoretical Review. Psychomusicology, 27(4), 334.
  7. Moreno-Morales, C., Calero, R., Moreno-Morales, P., & Pintado, C. (2020). Music Therapy in the Treatment of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front. Med., 7.
  8. Shuman, A., & Fischer, D. J. (2016). Music therapy and posttraumatic stress disorder: A review. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 29(5), 452-459.
  9. Tang, Q., Huang, Z., Zhou, H., & Ye, P. (2020). Effects of music therapy on depression: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One, 15(11).
  10. Xu, C., He, Z., Shen, Z., & Huang, F. (2022). Potential Benefits of Music Therapy on Stroke Rehabilitation. Oxid. Med. Cell. Longevity, 2022.

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