What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to achieve individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a board-certified music therapist. Music therapy can be practiced individually or in groups, often collaborating with other therapies, treatments, or pharmaceuticals. Music therapy involves listening to, reflecting on, and creating music with the goals of improving a person's health and well-being. Immersion in music can support people in more easily expressing themselves, uncovering and managing complex emotions, strengthening and attaining emotional intelligence and release.

Music can have both beneficial and adverse effects. Consider how a person experiencing PTSD may recollect traumatic memories, associate music with the underlying feelings, or integrate them. If the interaction was comfortable, the music might provide contentment or serenity, eliciting emotional responses. If the person has had a traumatic experience, the music may trigger a dread or anxious reaction. In any scenario, music can draw emotions to the surface and help a person manage them more productively.

Music can provide insights into cognition and behavioral elements such as motivations, reactive tendencies, cognitive perceptions, emotional regulation, and personal/interpersonal insight, allowing us to discern past the limitations of rational dialogue or conscious cerebral processes. Whether active or passive, music engagement can stimulate symbolic manifestations from our imaginal realm, dissecting unconscious thoughts and information. The psychoanalysis of a person's musical experience can reveal how they overcome difficulties.