Have you ever felt so happy or sad after listening to music that you cried? Have you felt that listening to music motivates you during your workouts or morning runs? If you have, then you know how powerful music is.
Music therapy is a scientific way of harnessing the power of music to heal our body and mind. It has numerous effects on our emotions. And these effects, when applied in a planned way, can heal us. This article will discuss how music therapy promotes emotional well-being.
What Is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy is healing through music. It involves improving human capability through the orchestrated use of music. Music therapy is effective because music affects brain function directly. It impacts our emotional, physical, and cognitive functions. Modern science keeps unlocking new possibilities in music therapy. As a result, it is successfully used in wellness programs, education, and rehabilitation.
Music is a fundamental aspect of our cultures and societies. Everyone finds it comfortable, unlike other methods of healing. In music therapy, the therapist understands the patient and customizes the treatment methods based on their identity. So, you’ll get personal experience in music therapy. Due to this, music therapy is more likable and more effective than traditional healing methods. In other words, music therapy is more enjoyable.
How does a music therapy session work?
Based on the need of each person, music therapy lasts between 30 minutes and an hour. One usually gets to schedule their session with the therapist. It can be regular, like once a week or once in a while. There are both individual sessions and group sessions happening at clinics or community centers. The therapist ensures that the place offers a calm and relaxing ambiance away from distractions.
Different therapists use different routines for the sessions. For instance, some use specific music at the start and end. Based on their beliefs, education, and experience, therapists have different methods for healing.
Some therapies involve lots of physical movement. In case someone has physical discomfort, they need to arrange for a comfortable practice.
The session may include music from different genres, instrumental music and may even involve you composing new music. Sometimes, you may have to fall in tune with your emotions to perform certain tasks. If you’re angry, you may have to sing or play loud music or play instruments fast.
Apart from expressing your emotions, you may learn how to change your emotions using music. For example, if you’re in a stressed-out mood, playing a soft melody or relaxing music can soothe you. Slow relaxed music can affect you, it makes you calm. This is because of the changes that take place inside our bodies when we listen to music.
Our blood pressure and heart rate drop. Besides, research also suggests it releases endorphins, which help keep pain under control.
Benefits of Music Therapy On Emotional health
Music therapy has been a subject of research for a long time. Existing results show that music therapy is highly beneficial to uplift our emotional health. It helps people with anxiety and depression to deal with it. Let’s take a detailed look at the benefits of music therapy on people’s emotional health:
1. Helps Treat Depression
A review from 2017 concludes that music therapy can help treat depression. Music therapy was most effective when used alongside usual treatments like psychotherapy and antidepressants.
Another study that appeared in the Journal of Affective Disorders of 2015 states that music can bring down anxiety, depression, and disturbing thoughts.
There are further researches that suggest that music therapy when combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy, turns out highly beneficial. It could help people with mild or moderate levels of depression.
2. Helps Treat Insomnia
People worldwide report that music helps them sleep faster. This is backed by research. It says music helps those suffering from insomnia or those with sleep disorders.
Relaxation therapy using music has proved to help people facing sleep difficulty. It tends to create a pre-sleep condition that then facilitates sleep. This is effective even outside your home, in a hospital-like setting.
3. Helps Reduce Chronic Pain
For people healing after surgery or severe injury, music has a highly calming effect. At the same time, music also helps them emotionally. Music therapy can reduce emotional pain when applied on a long term basis.
Further, music is so powerful as to enable memory processing. This means using music therapy to help people focus on positive memories and emotions from a time when they had no symptoms or health conditions.
4. Helps in Cancer Diagnosis
Cancer might be a physical disorder, but it has an equally deep emotional impact on patients. So, cancer patients need more than just generic treatment to deal with their needs. In fact, they need the whole system to care for their emotional health. And music therapy is ideal for this.
Research shows that music therapy helps reduce anxiety in cancer patients, especially after they undergo radiation therapy or while they face the side effects accompanying chemotherapy.
Many people who undergo cancer treatment report depression. The emotional load on them is usually overwhelming. They report much better state of mind after music therapies held during or after their diagnosis.
5. Helps reduce PTSD and Traumatic Stress
Music therapy helps people suffering from PTSD or trauma. A study in Psychomusicology suggests that music therapy reduces PTSD symptoms and makes daily function easy. Experts suggest that music enhances our resilience. It powers our body and mind to recover from an extreme event or injury naturally.
6. Helps with Other Mental Issues
Music therapy also helps to deal with other emotional conditions like:
- Autism disorders
- Behavioral issues
- Speech issues
- Brain, spine, and neurological issues
The Science behind Music Therapy
Music’s effect on emotions is powerful. It makes you happy, sad, or nostalgic in a matter of moments. It can also make you relaxed. You don’t have to attend music therapy to feel this. Experience it by plugging in your headphones and listening to your favorite songs. This ability to awaken emotions is the reason music is used in therapies.
Science has discovered that music helps release certain chemicals into the body. Music therapists use this to enable faster emotional healing. The following are the two main hormones released by music:
1. Endorphins: Endorphins are hormones released when you are in a happy and euphoric mental state. Often associated with runners, research proves that music can also release endorphins and bring euphoria. This hormone is known to reduce pain.
2. Dopamine: This is better known as the feel-good chemical. Dopamine is released when our body gets its rewards such as sleep or food. It is associated with pleasure. Studies suggest that even listening to music releases this chemical. This is one of the reasons why music feels highly rewarding.
Physical Impacts of Music
While there are multiple emotional rewards of music, it has equally beneficial physical effects too.
Studies suggest that music helps recover fast and brings down the pain felt by the patient, thanks to the hormones released. This faster healing power helps infants and children who cannot express themselves when they are in excessive pain.
The following chemicals are impacted upon listening to music:
Immunoglobin A: This is a type of cell that finds and fights viruses and other harmful agents in our body. Listening to music has shown to increase the presence of these cells in our system. As a result, our immunity power increases. It fights off other issues that can trouble the smooth healing processes.
Endorphins: Music releases endorphins into our blood, creating a happy state. These also block off all the pain. They stop pain receptors from sending the pain signal to the rest of our body.
Cortisol: This is a stress-inducing hormone. When you listen to music, cortisol levels have shown to drop considerably. As a result, our stress and anxiety drop after listening to music. In fact, music has been proved to be more effective than other anti-stress medicines used to deal with stress and anxiety.
Apart from the chemical changes, there are visible physical changes in our bodies after listening to music. Some notable changes include heart rate and blood pressure, as explained below:
Heart Rate: Sometimes certain pieces of music pumps you up so much that your heart races. This means the music drew a response from our body that changes our heart rate. While fast music raises it, soft music slows it down.
Blood Pressure: Calming music can bring down blood pressure. Using sounds and rhythms, calm music can relax muscles and the heart.
During music therapy, you have to sing, compose, or play an instrument. Music acts as an outlet for emotions. When people go through the session, they deal with certain parts of the music or the lyrics. This helps them realize or connect with emotions hidden within them. This is the power of music therapy. It is highly beneficial from an emotional standpoint, as explained above.