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How Can Music Therapy Help Improve Mental Health?

Learn more about how music therapy works, what a session looks like, and how it can improve your mental health.

Table of Contents

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a newer form of evidence-based therapy that utilizes music to achieve individual goals. It can be used as a preventive, a way of maintaining overall wellness, or as a treatment for various mental health conditions and disorders.

Like other types of therapies, music therapy is led by a licensed and certified healthcare provider who has completed an accredited music therapy program.


What Kind of Music is Used in Music Therapy?

Almost any type of music can be utilized in music therapy. The most important factor to consider when a repertoire is being chosen is the overall impression and atmosphere that the music provides. This can include the beat, rhythm, and lyrics. However, the genre isn’t typically a significant factor.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

Music therapy is a type of psychotherapy. This means that while it can have physical effects, such as lowering blood pressure, it is primarily focused on the mind.1
Studies have shown that music can generate a variety of positive effects on the mind and brain. These can help alleviate some of the symptoms of mental health disorders as well as create physical effects that improve overall wellness. Music therapy in particular encourages the patient to engage in music, either by listening to it, singing, or playing a musical instrument. This pairs the positive impact of music with an outlet for creativity and self-expression. As a result, music therapy works by fostering a positive internal and external environment to explore emotions and thoughts. 

Music Therapy vs. Sound Therapy

Although they may seem similar, music therapy and sound therapy are not the same. As mentioned above, music therapy is psychotherapy that utilizes music. Music is a mixture of frequencies and sounds that can create therapeutic effects. Sound therapy, however, uses specific frequencies and vibrations to create different effects.2
Typically, sound therapy focuses on physical disorders, such as tinnitus. However, like music therapy, it can also be beneficial for mental health and wellness.3

Different Types of Music Therapy

There are numerous different types of music therapy. Although each one is centered around using music for therapeutic purposes, they may have different approaches or formats.
Some of the different types of music therapy include:
  • Analytical music therapy
  • Benenzon music therapy
  • Community music therapy
  • Nordoff-Robbins music therapy
  • Vocal psychotherapy
  • Cognitive behavioral music therapy (CBMT)
  • The Bonny method of guided imagery and music (GIM)

Uses of Music Therapy

Music therapy has been shown to have a variety of beneficial uses. First, it can be beneficial from a physical standpoint. Music therapy can reduce physical stressors, such as elevated blood pressure. It has also been shown to have the potential to reduce pain and treat certain conditions associated with hearing, similar to sound therapy. 
However, it is most widely known for its benefits when used in the mental health sector. Music has long been thought to have healing qualities. Music therapy utilizes these features and combines them with traditional therapeutic approaches as well as the ability to engage with creativity and self-expression.

What Are the Benefits of Music Therapy?

The most significant benefit of music therapy is its ability to provide a less intimidating form of therapy without sacrificing any of the physical and mental benefits. Traditional psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, may be intimidating for those who are new to therapy. However, many people are familiar with music and often find joy in it. As a result, music therapy can boost the accessibility to essential healthcare.
Music therapy also reduces the severity of certain conditions while simultaneously preventing others. On top of aiding in treating certain disorders like depression or anxiety, music therapy can also help lower blood pressure and reduce stress. This can prevent future health issues as well as provide beneficial coping tools.

Using Music Therapy for Mental Health Improvement

As mentioned above, music therapy is one of the more common options for managing and boosting mental health. It is a relatively new practice, but it has become a very popular therapy method.

When Did Music Therapy Start Being Used for Mental Health?

Humans have been creating music since the beginning of time. People are known to have used music in every aspect of life, from healing to teaching to ceremonial purposes, for as long as they have existed. However, music therapy as a scientific practice is much newer. A majority of key development in music therapy can be traced back to the 1940s.

Is Music Therapy Outpatient or Inpatient?

Music therapy can be conducted both in an outpatient and inpatient setting. The specific setting depends on the program patients are currently enrolled in or are looking into. Often, rehabilitation centers or residential centers offer music therapy as part of an inpatient program. However, some music therapists work independently to provide outpatient care. 

About Music Therapists

Your music therapist is an essential part of your music therapy experience. Choosing the right therapist for you is an important step and can dictate the outcome of your experience.

What to Look for in a Music Therapist

Looking for the right music therapist for you carries the same weight as looking for any other therapist. You will want to make sure that you are researching licensed and accredited professionals in your area with experience in this form of therapy.
After conducting that research, you will want to ensure that they are someone you feel comfortable around. As with any therapist, it is a good idea to schedule an initial consultation with your music therapist in order to meet them and decide if you are comfortable working together and that they are the best possible fit for you.

Does a Music Therapist Work with Children and Adolescents?

When it comes to pediatric wellness and treatment, music psychotherapy can be a beneficial non-traditional approach to health and wellness. Studies have found that music therapy has shown the most positive effects in children with an autism spectrum disorder and in neonatal care.4
Music Therapy

Mental Health Recovery Using Music Therapy

For people who are seeking music therapy as a method of treating and bolstering mental health, there are many options available.

Does Insurance Cover Music Therapy?

Each insurance plan is different. However, most insurance plans that cover psychotherapy will also cover music therapy sessions. The best way to learn about your specific insurance and what it may cover is to reach out to your insurance provider directly.
In the instance that insurance does not cover music therapy, you may be able to reach out to the therapist directly for pricing and to potentially set up an individual payment plan.

What to Expect Before, During, and After the Music Therapy Session

At Ripple Ranch Recovery, you can expect your music therapy session to be conducted in a safe and professional environment. At every step of the therapy process, your highly-trained music therapist will ensure that you are in a proper mental state and will guide you through each exercise and conversation in a highly professional manner. Afterward, your therapist at Ripple Ranch will help end the session and determine what your next sessions will look like.
If you or someone you know is interested in exploring music therapy, Ripple Ranch Recovery is here to help. Please do not hesitate to call or visit our website for answers to any questions or concerns you may have.