Take a moment and turn off whatever you’re listening to right now. Imagine living in a world where there’s no music. Musicians are unheard of, and so are musical instruments. A world without music is hard to imagine.
Music connects you to so many past experiences. One song can bring you back to a specific time and place in your life. The lyrics or rhythm of a song can heal or inspire. The power of music can help those with a substance use disorder (SUD), as well as mental or physical health issues.
What Is Music Therapy?
What songs make you feel connected with a feeling or belief? Whether they’re faith-based or secular, the first chords of a song can immediately create an emotion. Whether it’s a chill, excitement, or reflection, music is powerful enough to elicit feelings. That’s why mental health or substance addiction treatment can include music therapy.
Music therapy is a clinically approved holistic therapy method of elevating a person’s mood. Those engaged in music therapy may sing, write, listen, or play instruments. Therapists find people involved in music therapy have a psychological, physical, spiritual, or emotional response. When used in a therapeutic setting, it can help:
- Improve memory
- Decrease blood pressure
- Improve coping skills
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Boost self-esteem
- Add to social and communication skills
- Develop healthy coping skills and regulate behaviors
The Connection Between Music and Mood
Songs can elevate you and improve your mood. Certain songs connect with you on levels you didn’t know existed. You can relate to the lyrics in a song. Think about the last time you were sad and played your favorite sad mood songs. The words and emotions the singer puts out are engaging.
Conversely, you can have happy songs that make you feel good. These songs make you feel like singing or dancing. Whatever mood you’re in, music can release feelings or inhibitions.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that music could affect your mood. So, say you want to work on improving your mood. You can. When you decide to feel happier, you can listen to upbeat music. An essential part of the study was a person’s commitment to pursuing personal happiness. People can listen to happy music without the intent of improving their mood. However, those who listen to upbeat music to change how they feel saw an increase in their happiness. One caveat: People who constantly asked themselves if they were happy didn’t have the full effect of the music. The lesson? Let yourself go and enjoy the music while finding ways to make yourself cheerful. The more you focus on measuring happiness, the less likely you will be in the moment.
The Goals in Music Therapy
The benefits of feeling good extend beyond being happy. Mental and substance use disorders are illnesses that affect your mind, body, or soul. A music therapist can work with you to target these components based on your goals and issues. The particular approach used to address your mental health concerns and/or substance addiction – for example, psychotherapy or a 12-Step program – plays an essential role in how music therapy is incorporated into your treatment.
Incorporating music therapy into your treatment or post-treatment care can help you manage your cravings, identify triggers, or increase your self-esteem. You can navigate your recovery through music because it develops your connection with your inner self and motivation. Anytime you listen, compose, or play music, you increase your dopamine levels (your feel-good chemicals). Substances also affect your dopamine levels. When you replace substances with music, the beneficial effect on your dopamine levels decreases cravings and ultimately creates a healthier mood.
Another plus to music therapy is music can act as a way to talk about or express your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes talking about specific events or people is challenging. Relating your feelings or experiences to a song may boost your ability to share.
Beginning Music Therapy
Since there isn’t a formal or standardized approach to assess a person’s needs in music therapy, your experience may differ from another person’s. Therefore, before you begin, your therapist may ask you about the type of music you prefer or when you listen to music most. Additional questions can include asking about when or at what time you listened to, composed, or played an instrument during your substance use.
Because music can elicit strong responses in people, the inclusion of music therapy is based on an individual’s experiences. A particular piece or song can trigger remembrance of trauma, creating unhealthy thoughts or feelings for some. In other cases, music can increase cravings and trigger the urge to drink alcohol or use drugs. The role of the therapist is to be mindful of potential triggers.
You don’t need to know how to write music or play an instrument to participate in music therapy. You just need to let go and connect.
Music therapy is a healthy way to get in touch with your feelings. Through music, you can learn to improve your mood. The connection between music and your mind, body, and spiritual health is evidence-based. Whether you know how to write music or play an instrument doesn’t matter. Your participation in the process is enough. Because certain songs can elicit deep emotions or memories, talking about specific past events or behaviors can become more accessible. Your connection or the relatability of a song can create a way for you to share, or you can recognize behaviors in your life and discuss how to change them. Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers believes in the importance of healing the mind, body, and spirit. Our services can guide you to understand that your well-being is a priority. You can heal and form bonds with those who care about you through our faith-based services. To learn more about our programs, call (801) 308-8898 today.