Throughout history, music has been used to convey feelings, communicate messages and relate to others. However, did you know that music has also been used for healing? According to research on music and medicine, the use of music for healing originated with Greek physicians who used music vibrations to help their patients improve their overall health.

However, music therapy used as a form of treatment for substance abuse disorder (SUD) is a more recent development, starting in the 1970s.

What is music therapy?

According to the article “What is Music Therapy?” by the American Music Therapy Association (AMAT), “Music therapy interventions can address a variety of healthcare and educational goals.”

The AMAT also states, “Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

For those clients in recovery who may have trouble verbally communicating how they feel or what they may need, music therapy has been shown to help them tap into those emotions and share them through music. There are many ways in which individuals can express their emotions with music. They can write songs, sing lyrics and play instruments as a form of self-care and as an outward expression of their internal feelings.

According to research, participation in music therapy can benefit those struggling with addiction in the following ways:

  • General music activities will decrease feelings of stress, anxiety, depression and anger.
  • Participating in writing songs and analyzing song lyrics results in overall positive changes in one’s emotional well-being.
  • Drumming helps to relax the body and mind.

As with other holistic treatments in addiction recovery programs, music therapy is most effective when used in conjunction with other evidence-based recovery treatment programs.

Music therapy doesn’t require any musical ability. 

One of the great things about music therapy is that it does not require any musical ability or previous experience.

Individuals of any skill level or age can participate in music therapy. These therapies are conducted by trained professionals who will work with you to design the music activities that best support your recovery needs.

Music therapies can be conducted in groups or one-on-one sessions with a licensed musical therapist. During these sessions, some of the skills you will work with your therapist on include:

  • Increasing non-verbal self-expression
  • Developing healthy coping skills to help manage sobriety
  • Strengthening self-esteem through musical performance
  • Adopting positive behaviors
  • Improving overall mood and sense of well-being

At PaRC (Prevention and Recovery Center), we even have music therapies explicitly geared toward teens.

Teens participate in our HealthRHYTHMS research-based drumming protocol. Through this facilitated drumming program, our clients experience benefits such as reduced interpersonal problems, improved school and/or work performance, improved behavioral tendencies and decreased overall anger.

How can music therapy help with stress or anxiety?

Music therapy and activities can also be used as a part of your self-care practices, allowing you time away from thoughts or environments that can cause stress or anxiety.

Self-care is essential to long-term sobriety management. If you want to incorporate music into your self-care routines, set aside time to listen to music with intention. Listening to music with intention does not mean just turning on the radio to your favorite station. Listening to music with intention means that you are listening to music you like and can relate to that will place you in a certain frame of mind or help you accomplish a specific objective.

For instance, do you need to be motivated to go out for a run or complete your gym routine? Music can help you power through. Need calming music or music to make you happy to change your mood? You can accomplish that as well. Make several playlists of songs for each objective and have them ready for when you might need them.

At PaRC, music therapy is one of our holistic treatment options.

We know that it is important to treat the whole person and not just the SUD. Our well-rounded approach customizes treatment plans for our clients that will heal their minds, bodies and souls. In addition to music therapy, we offer a variety of holistic therapies and groups. There is a holistic therapy for everyone, from connecting with nature and trying a new physical activity to finding peers within specialty groups.

Personal satisfaction has been shown to be a key factor in helping people manage long-term sobriety. Recovery is a lifetime journey and can be challenging at times, but finding and participating in therapies and self-care can help you build healthy coping skills to aid you when faced with challenges and difficulties.

Healing can take place through different therapeutic interventions or activities, each impacting individuals in a unique way. Music therapy is a holistic treatment that has been shown to be highly effective when combined with evidence-based addiction recovery treatments. Licensed musical therapists lead music therapy sessions in groups or one-on-one settings. This therapist will customize musical therapies that will benefit your specific recovery needs and goals. Benefits of music therapy include decreased feelings of stress, anxiety, depression and anger. Music activities can also become a part of your self-care routine by making playlists to help you change your mood or accomplish specific objectives. Anyone at any age can participate and benefit from music therapy. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, we are here to help. At PaRC, we treat the whole person, healing their mind, body and soul on their road to recovery. Give us a call today at (713) 939-7272.