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Creative therapies tap into a different part of the brain, allowing individuals to express themselves non-verbally. This can be very therapeutic, especially for those who don’t yet have the words to convey their thoughts and emotions. This article will talk about what to expect in music therapy and the benefits for a person recovering from addiction and mental health disorders.

What Exactly Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy uses sound to help people recover from physical, mental, and behavioral conditions. 

Facilities like West Coast Recovery Centers believe that clients should be met where they are in the moment, not where a clinical team believes they should be. Taking a client-centered approach to treatment means that each client’s recovery plan and goals are unique and respected. 

The purpose of music therapy can therefore range from person to person. Some clients aim to find an outlet for stress relief, while others find that composing music calms their anger. Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol, they can find peace in the rhythm.  

This evidence-based modality has become a popular way to work through a variety of disorders. 

A Universal Language for Healing 

You may have heard the maxim, “Music is a universal language.” A number of studies provide evidence that this saying holds some truth. One study, in particular, analyzed human songs from over 300 societies around the world and found that music is used across virtually every human society on the planet. They also discovered that music is a medium of expression in four behavioral contexts around the world, including: 

  • Dancing
  • Soothing a baby 
  • Seeking to heal illness
  • Expressing love to another person

Music has been used in ancient and indigenous societies to aid the healing process. For example, ancient Egyptians used musical incantations to heal those with illness. Greek doctors used instruments like the flute and lyre to create healing vibrations that aid in digestion, treat mental disturbance, and induce sleep. Aristotle wrote about how flute music could “arouse strong emotions and purify the soul.” In more recent times, scientists have discovered that even the movement of human cells is rhythmic! 

Who Can Music Therapy Help?

Those confronted with substance abuse and mental health conditions, including trauma, can benefit. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the following groups of people may find relief in music therapy: 

  • Individuals in detox/residential treatment may be experiencing physical illness from withdrawal symptoms.
  • Active military or veterans may experience post-traumatic stress or trauma.  
  • Individuals in a mental health facility or living in a halfway house may be impulsive and have deficits in problem-solving and communication skills. 
  • Those who have experienced or are experiencing trauma may have low mood, poor self-confidence, and anxiety. 
  • Individuals with mental health disorders may have trouble communicating and concentrating and lack sufficient coping skills. 
  • Unresolved trauma and depressive symptoms can cause somatic pain and fatigue.
  • Those with a substance use disorder may lack motivation, self-awareness, and coping skills. They may also suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety. 

What Should You Expect in Session?

Music therapy can be performed in both individual and group sessions. Activities may include: 

  • Singing
  • Dancing
  • Writing music
  • Listening to music
  • Playing instruments
  • Discussing the meaning of lyrics 

The best part about it is that you do not need any prior experience or musical talent to participate. Music therapy is all about freely expressing yourself, no matter what level you are at.

What Are the Potential Benefits? 

Music therapy can address the emotional, physical, cognitive, and social needs of an individual. Studies show that its benefits can include: 

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Improved memory 
  • Feelings of pleasure 
  • Reduced somatic pain 
  • Improved sleep quality 
  • Better social functioning 
  • Less depressive symptoms
  • Better communication skills 
  • Reduced psychological stress
  • Enhanced problem-solving skills

It Can Be Spiritual

Participating in musical activities can be spiritually therapeutic as well. When writing lyrics or composing, you are carefully crafting words and phrases that likely hold some meaning. You might also discover some important insights during reflection.

You might also feel a sense of accomplishment and connection to your environment and the people around you. That can be deeply fulfilling, especially if it’s something you’ve been missing due to drug abuse or mental health distress. 

Are There Other Types of Hands-on Therapies?

If music does not excite you, there are other hands-on therapies offered at facilities like West Coast Recovery Centers. 

Art therapy has many of the same benefits as music therapy but involves activities like painting, drawing, sculpting, and scrapbooking. The therapist guides clients through an interpretative process to identify symbolism and hidden meanings. If you like to move around and explore, experiential and adventure therapy may be for you. There is an activity for everyone that can provide comfort in being present in the moment. 

Music therapy is an evidence-based treatment for conditions like addiction and mental health disorders. Used for thousands of years, the vibration of sound has healing properties that can meet a person’s emotional, physical, cognitive, social, and even spiritual needs. West Coast Recovery Centers is an outpatient treatment center in Oceanside, CA. We treat adults looking for a life of sobriety and freedom from co-occurring mental health disorders. Our goal is to provide high-quality, individualized care in a professional yet comfortable environment. We have a diverse clinical team that believes in treating clients with compassion and respect. Everyone has been through difficult times, and we want to help you come out on the other side stronger and happier. We offer music therapy and other hands-on modalities so you get a wholesome experience. Rediscover your life through sustainable recovery. Call us today at (760) 492-6509.