Music Therapy Explained
Music therapy in addiction treatment uses music to improve a client’s psychological and emotional health, and improve their cognitive, social, sensory and other domains with the aim of enabling them to live a healthy and happy life without substance abuse. Listening to, composing, performing and thinking about music are known to improve overall mental health as well as having numerous other benefits which can have a positive impact on a client’s life, including boosting their resistance to any temptation to relapse following the completion of an addiction treatment plan, and improving their ability to build new, less problematic peer groups and associations.
Why Choose Music Therapy?
Music therapy is believed to be beneficial for all types of client, not necessarily only those receiving treatment for addiction or related conditions, but is increasingly frequently provided as a component of a broader addiction treatment plan, often in combination with other therapy models. Music therapy has been demonstrated to provide numerous benefits, including alleviating anxiety and depression; reducing stress; improving self-understanding and self-expression; providing alternatives to more problematic mechanisms for coping with boredom; boosting motor skills; improving levels of concentration and focus; alleviating muscular tension, headaches and back pain; improving sleep patterns; enhancing communication and social skills.
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What happens at music therapy?
There are two main forms of music therapy provided during addiction treatment: active music therapy, in which clients take part in the performance and/or composition of music, by singing, playing instruments and/or writing music; and passive (or receptive) music therapy, which involves the client listening to music, either recorded or live. In passive therapy, the therapist will typically choose the music to be experienced, based on their discussions with and observations of the client, while active therapy is often more improvisational and led by the client’s own creative impulses (though in group settings the therapist may need to take on a more directorial role).
How effective is music therapy?
Music therapy is not considered a “cure” in itself for addiction, but its benefits can greatly enhance the effectiveness of an overall addiction treatment programme (and has been seen to have various benefits as a standalone therapeutic approach). Music therapy typically increases a client’s motivation and their desire to engage fully with treatment, as well as providing a degree of emotional support and facilitating a catharsis which particular clients may find difficult to achieve via other therapy models. Music is also believed to create a degree of relief from physical pain, which can assist clients suffering from physical responses to treatment, including certain withdrawal symptoms.
The Role of Counselling in Music Therapy
A counsellor has a number of roles in the provision of music therapy, including acting as a guide or curator during receptive music therapy sessions, and as a coordinator (and even a conductor) in active music therapy, especially in group environments. The counsellor will also seek to explore the client’s responses to the music they have heard and/or performed, placing it in context and working with the client to improve their understanding of those responses and how to optimise the impact of the music provided.
Facts and Statistics about Music Therapy
In the UK, music therapists must be registered with the Health Professions Council and as of 2007 are normally required to hold a master’s degree in music therapy.
Music has been used in medicine for thousands of years: Apollo was the Greek god of both medicine and music, and Greek philosophers including Plato and Aristotle taught the use of music as a purifying and healing force.
Music is considered to have therapeutic qualities even outside a clinical setting: the song ‘1-800-273-8255’ by the rapper Logic, citing the number of the US’ National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, contributed to a 33% increase in calls to that number.
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