rippleranch_logo-200x101-1-q6144w15aqyeb8bcxqq9ctly80oko5dqv2hqwrlz40 (1)

What Is Sound Therapy: Principles, Benefits, and Uses

Learn the ins and outs of sound therapy, its profound benefits, and diverse uses for well-being in this comprehensive article.

Written by our Ripple Ranch Recovery Center staff & reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey L. Butts and Crissy Clark, LCSW-S, EMDR – Executive Director 

What Is Sound Therapy?

Sound therapy is a treatment that uses the power of sound to improve physical and mental health. Unlike talk therapy, which focuses on verbal communication, sound therapy works with the auditory system. It targets your sense of hearing and how your brain processes sound.

While many therapies are available today, sound therapy stands out because it doesn’t rely on medications or intense physical interventions. Instead, it taps into the natural rhythms and tones that our bodies and minds respond to, providing a unique avenue for healing and relaxation.

"Integrating sound therapy into addiction recovery involves a holistic approach to address various aspects of the healing process. Utilizing techniques such as music therapy, guided meditation, or sound baths, we incorporate sound as a therapeutic tool to manage stress, promote relaxation, and enhance emotional expression. Sound therapy can be woven into individual or group counseling sessions to support the exploration of emotions and foster a sense of mindfulness. This integrative approach aims to provide patients with additional coping mechanisms, contributing to a more comprehensive and personalized addiction recovery treatment plan."

Sound therapy

Table of Contents

Learn More About Ripple Ranch Recovery Center

Our team is standing by to discuss your situation and options. Your call is fully confidential, and no obligation is required

Ancient Civilizations and Sound Healing

Sound therapy isn’t a new trend; its roots trace back to ancient civilizations. Various societies recognized the healing potential of sound and developed practices centered around it.

Sound Therapy in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians believed in the therapeutic power of music and used chants in their healing rituals. They utilized instruments like harps and flutes to produce healing tones.

Sound Therapy in Tibet

Similarly, Tibetan monks have been using singing bowls for centuries. When struck or rubbed, these bowls produce vibrations believed to have healing properties. They are still used today in meditation and healing practices.

Sound Therapy in Greek Philosophy

Greece, known for many of its contributions to modern society, also valued the therapeutic nature of music. In fact, the title “Father of Music” is often credited to the famous Greek philosopher Pythagoras.

He not only discovered musical intervals but also believed that sounds and vibrations can heal the mind and body. Pythagoras taught and performed this idea, which he later called musical medicine.

The Basic Principle: Sound and Vibration

Sound and vibration are two sides of the same coin. When something makes a sound, it causes vibrations in the air. These vibrations travel to your ears, translating into what you recognize as sound.

For instance, when you hit a drum, it vibrates and produces a sound. The faster the vibrations, the higher the pitch, and the slower the vibrations, the lower the pitch.

How Does Sound and Vibration Tie Into Therapy?

It’s all about the body’s response. Your body has its own set of vibrations, from the rhythmic beating of your heart to the humming of your brainwaves.

Sound therapy introduces external sounds that can influence and harmonize with the body’s internal rhythms. Different frequencies and rhythms can target specific issues or areas of the body. This can enhance relaxation, reduce stress, and even promote healing.

Just as certain melodies or tunes can evoke memories and emotions, therapeutic sounds can help recalibrate our body’s energy patterns.

The Science of Sound Therapy

The impact of sound on the body is more profound than you might first expect. Let’s dive into the various physical and mental effects of sound.

Physiological Effects of Sound

Various areas of the body react strongly to different sounds. For instance, sound can increase or decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone production.1
Sound is also capable of reducing pain. One study found low-frequency sound stimulation to significantly improve symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, a condition marked by widespread pain.2

After ten sound stimulation treatments, patients reported an average improvement of 90% on the Jenkins Sleep Scale, 81% on the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, and 49.1% on the Pain Disability Index. These results clearly show the power of sound therapy.

The Auditory System's Role

Every sound you hear, whether a honking horn or soft rain, goes through the auditory system. This system can process a wide range of sounds. But, the auditory system works a bit differently regarding therapeutic sounds.3

Therapeutic sounds are structured and purposeful. When your ears pick up these sounds, they’re funneled to the auditory cortex in the brain. Here, sounds are not only heard but processed at a deeper level.

This is why certain sounds can have a calming effect or help with focus. The auditory system acts as a filter, letting through sounds that can be used for healing and tuning out potential distractions.

Brainwave Entrainment

From thinking to relaxing, everything you do is linked to specific brain wave patterns. Sound therapy leverages this by using different sound frequencies to guide the brain into certain states.

For example, lower frequencies can promote a relaxed and meditative state. Conversely, higher frequencies can promote alertness and concentration.

When the brain picks up on these frequencies, it tries to sync up with them. This process is known as brainwave entrainment. So, sound therapists can guide your brain to desired states by playing certain sounds, ranging from focus to relaxation or even sleep.

The Psychological Impact of Sound

Beyond the physical, sound holds power over our minds and emotions. From a baby’s cry to a favorite song, different sounds trigger different emotional reactions. Sound therapy taps into this connection to provide healing and relief.

Here are two prime examples of how sound affects the mind:

  1. Mood: Certain sounds can elevate your mood, making you feel happier and more positive. Conversely, other sounds can help calm anger or anxiety.
  2. Memory: Sounds can trigger memories, both good and bad. In a therapeutic setting, using sound can help individuals process past traumas or relive happy moments.

"Research supporting the use of sound therapy in addiction treatment is growing, indicating its potential benefits for stress reduction, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. Studies have shown that music therapy, for example, can positively impact mood, decrease anxiety, and enhance engagement in the therapeutic process. When conveying this to patients, I discuss the empirical evidence and highlight how incorporating sound therapy into their treatment plan may complement traditional therapeutic approaches. Emphasizing the integrative nature of these interventions fosters a sense of empowerment and encourages patients to actively engage in their recovery journey."

Instruments of Sound Therapy

Several instruments are central to sound therapy, each with distinct sound qualities that offer therapeutic effects.

Singing Bowls

Singing bowls produce a sound that can deeply resonate with the human body. This resonance helps clear energy blockages and align the body’s energy centers or chakras. Additionally, their gentle hum and vibration can assist in reducing feelings of anxiety and tension.

A study on the effects of singing bowl sound meditation found that participants reported improved mood, reduced tension, and a greater sense of well-being after sessions.4


Gongs are not just instruments for ceremonial purposes. In sound therapy, the harmonics of gongs provide a full spectrum of sound that stimulates the body. This vast range of tones interacts with the human system, promoting relaxation and releasing emotional blockages.

Tuning Forks

Tuning forks play a crucial role in sound therapy, as they can produce exact frequencies. This allows sound therapists to address specific issues by adjusting the fork’s frequency. Tuning forks to aid in aligning energy and promoting physical and emotional healing.

Modern Sound Therapy Techniques

While traditional instruments remain at the heart of sound therapy, the field hasn’t remained static. Modern techniques, influenced by advancements in technology, have broadened the scope of sound therapy.

One notable development is the introduction of binaural beats. This involves playing two slightly different frequencies in each ear, leading the brain to perceive a third tone. The technique can enhance relaxation and meditation.

Digital sound tables and sound baths also offer deep relaxation and therapeutic effects. This sound therapy technique involves being immersed in sound while lying on a bed.

Sound Therapy's Effectiveness on Mental Health

Sound therapy has increasingly become a beacon of hope for those grappling with various mental health conditions. Several conditions have shown responsiveness to sound therapy interventions. These include:

Stress and Anxiety

Sound therapy can induce deep relaxation. The harmonious sounds produced during sessions help decrease the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. This can provide relief from anxiety.

One study highlighted that sound-based treatments effectively lowered both somatic and cognitive state anxiety. This suggests that sound can directly impact our thoughts and feelings in stressful situations.5

"There is a growing body of anecdotal evidence and some emerging studies suggesting the positive impact of sound therapy on addiction recovery. Patients have reported reduced stress, improved emotional regulation, and enhanced relaxation through participation in music therapy or sound-based interventions. These experiences highlight the potential for sound therapy to contribute positively to the multifaceted process of addiction recovery. It's essential, however, to view these anecdotes as part of a broader spectrum of therapeutic tools, with individual responses varying."


The soothing nature of sound therapy can alleviate some depressive symptoms. It’s believed that the calming sounds help stimulate serotonin production, a mood-enhancing hormone.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Sound therapy can offer a distraction from distressing thoughts for those with PTSD. The structured sounds provide a sense of safety and can pull the mind away from traumatic memories.6


Sound therapy can also be a valuable tool when integrated into addiction recovery programs. Here’s how it supports the journey to sobriety:

  • Relaxation: Sound therapy can help create a calm environment, making it easier for you to relax. It can reduce anxiety, which is often a trigger for substance abuse.
  • Enhanced Sleep Quality: Many people in recovery struggle with sleep disturbances. Sound therapy can help improve sleep patterns. This will lead to more restorative sleep, which is vital for healing the body and mind.
  • Improved Focus and Concentration: The therapeutic sounds can help you stay centered, enhancing your focus and making it easier to participate in other treatments or therapies effectively.
  • Emotional Release: For some, sound therapy can serve as a form of emotional release. It allows you to confront and process complex emotions without resorting to substances.
  • Increased Mindfulness and Awareness: As you listen and absorb the sounds, you become more in tune with your inner self. This heightened awareness can be essential in understanding triggers and avoiding potential relapses.

Possible Concerns and Limitations of Sound Therapy

Despite its benefits, it’s also essential to understand potential concerns surrounding sound therapy:

  • Not a Standalone Treatment: Sound therapy is designed to complement standard medical treatments or medications, not replace. Before integrating sound therapy into your routine, it’s best to discuss it with a healthcare provider.
  • Overstimulation: Not everyone reacts to sound in the same way. Some may find particular sounds too intense or overwhelming. This is especially true for individuals with sensitivities to certain frequencies or auditory processing issues.
  • Short-Term Effects: For some individuals, the positive effects of sound therapy can be fleeting, meaning that they might need ongoing sessions to maintain the benefits.

Is Sound Therapy Right for You?

The following can help you determine if sound therapy is right for you:

  • Self-Assessment: Reflect on what you hope to achieve. Are you looking for relaxation, better concentration, or pain relief?
  • Trial Session: Before committing, consider a trial session to gauge how you respond to different sounds.
  • Discuss With a Professional: Sound therapists can offer insights on the potential benefits for your specific needs and challenges.

"Patient responses to sound therapy in addiction treatment vary, with many reporting positive outcomes such as reduced anxiety, improved mood, and enhanced relaxation. Challenges in implementation include individual preferences, as not all patients may resonate with or benefit equally from sound-based interventions. Ensuring accessibility to a variety of sound therapy options, considering diverse cultural preferences, and addressing potential sensory sensitivities are essential aspects of overcoming implementation challenges. Tailoring sound therapy to individual needs and preferences is key to optimizing its effectiveness in the context of addiction treatment."

Integrating Sound Therapy

Sound therapy stands out in the therapeutic landscape due to its unique approach. But where it really shines is when it’s paired with more traditional treatments. Here are some examples:

Sound Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

One of the most commonly used therapies is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It helps you identify negative thought patterns and behaviors and restructure them by cultivating healthier, more positive ways of thinking.

Introducing sound therapy can provide a tranquil environment, making it easier for you to access, confront, and modify these thoughts.

Sound Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is another treatment method that sound therapy could be used alongside. DBT focuses on self-acceptance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Sound therapy can bolster these DBT modules by creating an auditory backdrop that supports emotional grounding and reflection. It can help you practice mindfulness and living in the present moment.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), medication, and even yoga are all examples of other treatments that can be enhanced with sound therapy. It acts as a supplement, improving the efficacy of tried-and-true therapeutic methods.

Seeking Trained Sound Therapists

Wellness centers, therapeutic retreats, and specialized clinics often offer sound therapy. Some hospitals and physical therapy centers have also integrated sound therapy into their range of treatments due to its potential benefits.

If you’re looking to explore sound therapy, finding a trained sound therapist is paramount. A skilled therapist will have a good understanding of different sound frequencies and their effects. They will also create a safe and relaxing environment for the therapy session.

Sound therapy

Discover Healing With Ripple Ranch Recovery Center

At Ripple Ranch, we offer a compassionate and comprehensive path to recovery for individuals facing challenges with mental health, substance use disorder, or both.

Embracing the profound philosophy of the “Ripple Effect,” we aim to create far-reaching positive impacts that affect not only the lives of our clients but everyone they connect with.

Treatments at Ripple Ranch

Our team, comprised of Master’s level clinicians, ensures personalized care tailored to each individual’s unique journey. We blend clinically developed, evidence-based treatment methods with a holistic approach to ensure long-lasting recovery.

Some of the treatments we offer include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

If you are struggling with co-occurring disorders, our dual diagnosis treatment delivers effective interventions that target both the mental health and substance use disorder simultaneously. This is how we break the distressing cycle.

Contact Us Today

At Ripple Ranch, we view recovery as a journey, not just a destination. Contact us today and step into our world where healing ripples outward.