Music Therapy Techniques

Music therapy is an evidence-based intervention for many mental health problems. Therapists can use specialized music therapy techniques to help patients with stress, chronic pain, difficulty communicating, and emotional disorders.

The following methods are some of the most popular with music therapists today.

Songwriting

Songwriting helps people process difficult and intense emotions. As a music therapy technique, songwriting gives patients a coping mechanism that is both challenging and constructive. Sometimes, it can prove difficult to express intense emotions in talk therapy. Songwriting gives patients a task that can help them process trauma.

Clients with musical skills may write both the lyrics and music for a song. Those with less musical background can write lyrics to pre-written music to experience the same benefits. Both methods require that patients name and process difficult emotions.

Music counselors use drumming to help people who experience difficulty communicating or suffer from anxiety in social situations

Drumming

Music counselors use drumming to help people who experience difficulty communicating or suffer from anxiety in social situations. For example, counselors may use this music therapy technique to help patients on the autism spectrum.

Therapists bring several clients together, each with drums in front of them. Patients then hit their drums all together. Sometimes, the counselor adds accompanying music, but not always. Clients use the beat of the drum to communicate with others in the room, who then return the favor. This technique gives people who feel uncomfortable with verbal communication a chance to connect with others in a new way.

Singing

When illnesses like stroke and aphasia take away a person's physical ability to speak, singing can provide the first step toward regaining that skill. Music therapists use a method called melodic intonation therapy for these patients. Clients start by singing sounds, then move on to reciting jingles, eventually trying to sing full songs. This process helps the muscles regain the ability to speak.

Just as songs help school children learn new information, singing can help patients with memory issues — including dementia — recover information. Catchy tunes can help patients remember important details and can sometimes repair brain damage.

Just as songs help school children learn new information, singing can help patients with memory issues — including dementia — recover information

Playing Instruments

Learning to play an instrument can instill a sense of confidence and self-esteem in a patient. Music counselors can help both children and adults learn new skills, even if they have never played music before. This music therapy technique not only allows patients to feel accomplished, but also gives people a constructive hobby that helps them cope with emotions.

Playing an instrument can help patients with depression learn to enjoy a hobby again and look forward to something. People who have trouble expressing their feelings through words can play melodies that communicate these emotions.

Listening to Music

Patients do not need to write or play music to reap the benefits of music therapy. Listening to music can also provide significant therapeutic benefits. The emotion that music evokes can help clients process their feelings. However, listening to songs in music therapy requires significant, intentional effort. Music counselors have their patients practice receptive listening, which can help people cope with difficult emotions.

istening to music can also provide significant therapeutic benefits — the emotion that music evokes can help clients process their feelings

Moving to Music

Dancing in music therapy blends receptive listening with more creative music therapy techniques. Clients listen to music and emotionally connect with it. They can then express those emotions through movement. This method can have several positive outcomes, including better mood, improved communication, and heightened self-esteem.

The act of moving the body and getting some exercise can improve a person's mood. This also serves as a healthy coping mechanism for people with mood disorders. By interpreting music and using nonverbal communication, clients improve their communication skills.

Discussing Song Lyrics

Like poetry, song lyrics can evoke strong emotional reactions. Music therapists sometimes lead discussions about song lyrics to help clients. Through this discussion, several topics can arise, giving patients opportunities to talk about difficult elements of their personal lives.

Trying to interpret lyrics also teaches empathy. Furthermore, if two people disagree on the meaning of the words, the therapist can use the disagreement as a chance to show how to resolve conflict.

Top Reasons to Explore a Career in Music Therapy
FIND A PROGRAM
Sponsored Schools