Music Therapy first came into the clinical profession to combat the effects of World War II. However, the power of music can be traced back to the earliest days of mankind. It has the power to boost emotions immediately, more than any other art forms; even farmers use it for animals and crops.

This five-letter word has a lot more potential than being just a mood-booster. Listening to music isn’t just a means of entertainment, but it can also be therapeutic. The healing power of music is such that it is being used in hospitals to calm anxiety, ease pain, and provide a pleasant diversion during chemotherapy or a hospital stay.

Music: just an Art form or Therapy?

Music therapy is widely known to reduce depression and the symptoms of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease as well. The power and effect of music can also improve self-expression and communication.

It is not surprising that it affects the body and mind in many powerful ways. The ancient chants and prayers of any religion are proof of how certain music or tune can affect our minds. Even while caught up in a busy schedule, some songs can take us back to a significant time. Isn’t it? Perhaps the music leaves you feeling calmer or, sometimes the exact opposite. Surely, we all must have a particular song in our playlist that can induce a certain emotion in any situation.

Music therapists use some common elements like pitch, rhythm, dynamics, timbre and texture in a specific way, with the explicit intent of affecting emotion of the person who’s hearing them. With far-reaching benefits, the types and techniques of this therapy have a profound impact.

If you’re facing an illness or just want to relief from the stresses of daily life and you want to try music therapy, keep reading on to know more about it. 

What is Music Therapy?

Music: just an Art form or Therapy?

Music Therapy is an established clinical profession which has designed keeping a number of factors in mind, including the clients’ physical health, communication abilities, cognitive skills, emotional well-being, and interests. After assessing these factors along with the treatment goals, the therapist decides to employ either the active or creative and receptive process. The best part is that you do not need to have musical abilities to benefit from either process. The therapy aims to help people in improving social skills, emotions, coordination, personal growth, self-expression, communication skills, sensory skills, physical skills, cognitive skills, emotional skills etc.

The music therapist’s goals for the treatment might include:

  • Improving mood  
  • Enhancing the quality of life
  • Strengthening coping skills
  • Encouraging emotional expression
  • Relieving stress and symptoms of anxiety

Research shows its effectiveness in many areas such as overall physical rehabilitation after a stroke, a traumatic head injury, and increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.

How does MUSIC THERAPY work?

Music: just an Art form or Therapy?

Music therapy can be roughly divided into two techniques –active and receptive techniques. In the creative process, the therapist works with the client to actively create or produce the music. This may include composing a song, engaging in song improvisation, or drumming.

In the receptive process, the therapist offers music listening experiences, such as using music to facilitate a client or group’s relaxation. Clients or groups may then discuss thoughts, feelings, or ideas elicited by that music.

Following are the techniques of Music Therapy: 

  • Creative/Expressive Music Interventions

Using Creative music technique gives you the chance to express yourself in comfortable ways. You can improve your self-esteem when you create or perform music. You develop your cognitive skills when you take on the challenge of expressing yourself through this therapy.

  • Song Writing
Music: just an Art form or Therapy?

Songwriting is a technique that allows you to deal with your emotions constructively. It gives you a chance to do mental work that’s not only fun and enjoyable but also improves your mental capabilities.

  • Drumming
Music: just an Art form or Therapy?

Drumming is especially used for people who have difficulty communicating in a social situation, such as people with autism. Drumming is typically a group exercise. The therapist offers various kinds of drums to patients, and they play together with or without accompanying music. The therapist uses drumming to not only get patients involved in their therapy but also to help them engage with each other.

  • Music Performance

To build self-esteem music performance is a great technique in this therapy. This technique can be used within the group setting, with or without an additional audience. The process of deciding to perform and then preparing for the performance gives patients an opportunity to make a plan, follow through with it, and achieve success.

  • Music and Imagery

Music and Imagery is a specific technique developed by Helen L. Bonny, PhD. If you see a therapist trained in this technique, firstly, they’ll talk to you about your current situation before guiding you in a relaxation technique. Next, they play music while you talk about whatever comes to you as you listen, whether that’s images, thoughts, feelings, memories or all of those.

The ultimate goal of this technique is to integrate all aspects of your being to become physically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually healthier.
This therapy can be used for various diseases.

The uses and benefits of music therapy have been researched for decades. A growing body of research attests that it can improve medical outcomes and quality of life for various diseases.

Music: just an Art form or Therapy?
  • Easing anxiety and depression  

Clinical studies have shown music therapy can be an effective component of depression treatment. According to the researches, the battle of depression can be dealt with this therapy as it helps in easing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Insomnia
Music: just an Art form or Therapy?

Research has shown that music therapy can be helpful for people with sleep disorders or insomnia. Compared to other treatments for Insomnia, music is less invasive, more affordable, and something a person can do on their own.

  • Improving the quality of life for people with dementia
Music: just an Art form or Therapy?

Music has the ability to evoke emotions, memories which help into the disease process. It has been proved to help patients with dementia in reducing agitation, improving communication and physical coordination.  

  • Chronic Pain relief

On an emotional pain level, Music has been a popular pain management strategy for acute and chronic pain management in all age groups. It has been tested in a variety of patients, going through intense short-term pain, chronic pain from arthritis, surgery or an injury, Labor or Childbirth, for example, may help both kids and adults cope with physical pain.

  • Reducing side effects of Cancer

Listening to music reduces anxiety in cancer patients, starting radiation treatments. This therapy has been shown to help them cope with the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting.

Music: just an Art form or Therapy?
  • Other Conditions

Researchers are also exploring the world of music therapy to help people physically and mentally, including:

Schizophrenia, Speech disorders, Behavioural disorders, Cardiovascular disease, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Developmental delays and learning disabilities, stroke, brain injury, and neurological disorders.


Music therapy generally produces positive results, but it is not recommended as a stand-alone treatment for serious medical and psychiatric issues. However, when combined with medication, psychotherapy, and other interventions, it can help to relieve some of the symptoms.

Further, while it is possible for any form of music to be used effectively in this therapy, some facts are important to remember:

  • Not all individuals will find each type of music to be therapeutic.
  • The benefit of a particular type of music will often depend on an individual’s preferences and the condition experienced by that individual.
  • Some music forms may actually cause agitation.
  • To achieve success, a therapist will likely need to ensure the musical preferences of the individual in treatment.

Also read : The subtle art of happiness


Any form of art has therapeutic qualities and so does music. It can be used in daily life for relaxation to gain energy when feeling drained or to deal with emotional stress.

There are some amazing books on music therapy available on Amazon. The Music Therapy Handbook, The New Music Therapist’s Handbook, Case Studies in Music Therapy, Defining Music Therapy, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and The Brain are some to name. You can check out them down here.

Do you have any experience with music therapy? Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas.

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