Can Music Therapy Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

A Guest Blog by Paradigm SanFrancisco.com

Music therapy has been found to help many conditions, including anxiety. Listening to music can help make us feel relaxed and at ease.

Since Ancient Greek times, music has been used to heal the mind and body. In fact, in Native American culture, there are more than 1,500 songs that are used for healing purposes. Music therapy has been used with military populations for some time. During both World War I and II, music therapy was used for veterans who were suffering from emotional and physical trauma.

Today, music therapy is recognized as an effective treatment for a number of mental health and physical health conditions. It is being used regularly in clinics, nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and hospice facilities to help patients calm the mind and body.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a type of expressive therapy that involves a large variety of music-related activities, such as singing, improvising, moving, playing musical instruments, and listening to music. Music therapy has been shown to have positive physical, social, and psychological effects. Different types of music are often used for different reasons in music therapy. For example, rock music may lead to discomfort for some and is thought to help increase one’s ability to tolerate pain. Therefore, it is often used for people who have chronic pain, according to Psychology Today. Classical music, on the other hand, has been found to increase relaxation. This type of music is often used to help patients learn to cope with stress.

Music therapy is performed by a trained therapist who specializes in music therapy and has completed a rigorous degree program and internship. Music therapy emphasizes skills that can help you in other areas of your life. For instance, music therapy can help someone with anxiety use music to cope with anxiety-provoking situations. Treatment may take place in either an individual setting or group setting. Music therapy is often used in conjunction with other types of therapy, such as individual psychotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.

How Can Music Therapy Help You Cope With Anxiety?

Listening to music can help relieve stress and anxiety. It may also improves mood and help with one’s overall well-being. When the body is stressed, it may feel tense and tight. Listening to music can help facilitate relaxation. In fact, music therapy is often used with progressive muscle relaxation to reduce anxiety.

Progressive muscle relaxation involves relaxing the muscles through a two-step process. First, you systematically relax different muscles in your body and then you relax every other muscle, focusing on how you feel when the muscles are relaxed. This type of therapy is paired with music therapy to help people experiencing anxiety learn to relax.

Tips for Finding a Music Therapy Program

It is important that you find the right music therapy program or therapist, otherwise, it will not be effective. Here are some general tips to help you find the right music therapy treatment program.

Treat Co-Occurring Disorders

Anxiety often occurs with other disorders, such as substance abuse and mood disorders like Bipolar and Depression. Therefore, it is important to treat all co-occurring disorders. This will help treat underlying issues. If anxiety is triggered by bipolar symptoms, for instance, treatment for both the bipolar symptoms and anxiety may be more effective rather than simply treating one or the other.

Choose Individualized Treatment

Music therapy should be customized for your particular needs. Even if you participate in group music therapy, a treatment plan that is individualized just for your specific symptoms is necessary as well. Everyone is different. Anxiety presents in different ways for different people and treatment that will address one’s specific symptoms and needs is critical.

Treatment Should Include Other Components

In most cases, treatment for anxiety involves a multifaceted approach. Anxiety disorders are a complex and diverse group of disorders. In most cases, music therapy will need to be augmented with a variety of treatments that might include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Medications
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Social skills training

No single treatment is typically enough to treat anxiety. Therefore, you will want to choose a treatment program that offers an array of complementary treatments for anxiety.