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What is Music Therapy & How Does It Work?

Written on January 31, 2022
What is Music Therapy & How Does It Work?

What Is Music Therapy & How Does It Work?

Do you feel happy or relaxed after listening to your favorite song? Music is often linked to improving moods, reducing stress, alleviating pain, enhancing memory, and promoting mindfulness in listeners. This is something healthcare practitioners have taken notice of. 

 The popularity of using music as an alternative treatment for managing emotional, cognitive, and physical issues has been increasing in recent years, and many health care providers are using music therapy to help their patients. 

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is an established treatment method delivered by professional music therapists to help patients manage problems arising from injuries or illnesses by improving their cognitive, physical, emotional, and communication abilities. 

People have used music for relaxation, increased focus on recovery, and substance use problems treatment, and there are a variety of studies that illustrate its effectiveness. One study published in JAMA Pediatrics found music to have a positive effect on the pain and distress children felt while undergoing intravenous (IV) placement, reducing both pain and stress. Healthcare providers also noticed a difference, with over two-thirds reporting that IVs were easier to administer compared to just 38% of providers who treated a group without music. The benefits of music therapy aren’t just reserved to children, as a systematic review published by Cochrane Library shows. The review found that music therapy can have a beneficial effect on pain, anxiety, mood, and quality of life in cancer patients. It also found music therapy to have a small effect on blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate. 

It has even been shown that listening to and playing music can increase the body’s production of antibodies like immunoglobulin A and cells that booth the immune system by attacking invading viruses, as outlined in the popular science book This is Your Brain on Music.

How Does it Work?

Everyone is familiar with how music can produce different emotional states and feelings, but few know the science behind these effects. 

When listening to music, the brain’s pleasure sensors release dopamine – a neurotransmitter that acts as a messenger between neurons that most people know as the body’s “happy” or “pleasure chemical.”  However, dopamine does more than just put you in a good mood. The right amount of dopamine also helps nerve cells, fundamental units of the brain and nervous system, send messages to each other. In some cases, if a person associates a certain activity like listening to music with feeling good, the anticipation alone can be enough to raise dopamine levels.  

This science is the basis of music therapy, and music therapists use the therapeutic qualities of music to support individuals of all ages with different abilities at different stages of life. Whether you want to improve a bond with your newborn or offer quality and sensitive palliative care, music therapy has so much to offer.

Benefits of Music Therapy

Since music therapy is a form of complementary treatment, the therapist will work with other health care providers to create a formal approach to address different patients’ specific needs. With music therapy, patients can:

  • Develop better communication skills
  • Enjoy enhanced emotional adjustment
  • Focus on specific cognitive aspects like memory and attention
  • Enjoy enhanced social functioning
  • Increase mindfulness

The person under treatment doesn’t have to know a lot about the different genres of music available. They only need to be responsive to a specific type of music. If you or your loved one struggles with any form of substance addiction, the music will help them deal with cravings, cope with negative feelings of anger, guilt, depression, or anxiety, and relieve boredom.

Music Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Music therapists will assess the emotional and physical welling, social functioning, cognitive skills, and communication abilities to create personalized music sessions based on their needs. Music therapy programs can involve playing instruments, dancing, writing song lyrics, creating art with music, or simply listening to music. 

At Flatirons Recovery, our music therapy treatment combines evidenced based methods with a holistic approach. It’s just one part of our unique curriculums aimed at fostering and nourishing all parts of a person’s being. Our professionals can help coordinate a detoxification program combined with post-detox treatment that includes music therapy sessions to ensure you or your loved one recovers faster.

Struggling with an Addiction? We Can Help

If you are struggling with an addiction, our psychologists and therapists will offer the medical and therapeutic treatment you need to recover faster. You no longer have to struggle with your loved one’s addiction alone. You only need to reach out to professionals at Flatirons Recovery today to get the much-needed support.

We have different treatment plans to suit all types of addictions. Contact us online or call us at (303) 693-9119 to schedule an appointment with a professional therapist who will help you kickstart your healing journey.