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Exploring the Healing Powers of Music Therapy : Benefits, Types, and Techniques

They say, “Music makes everything better.” Today, music therapy has gained popularity because of the tremendous health benefits that it offers to mankind. Music therapy involves using music for addressing a wide range of health issues, including mental, physical, and emotional health. Let us read further to know more about music therapy and explore its various healing powers.

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a type of therapy where music is used to improve one’s physical, emotional, mental, and psychological well-being. This therapy can be delivered in different settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and even schools and community centers. Music therapy applies to any individual, irrespective of their age group. A qualified and trained music therapist uses music interventions to work towards particular goals that are tailored to the needs and abilities of each individual.

Music therapy may include singing, listening to music, playing an instrument, creating music, writing songs, and so on. The music therapist might also use several techniques to help people engage with music, such as movement to music, guided relaxation, and also music-assisted visualization. Music therapy can help in motivating people, improve mental and physical well-being, help them recover from pain, improve cognitive function, and feel relaxed.

Types Of Music Therapy

Some of the major types of music therapy are listed below.

Background Music Therapy:

This type of music therapy involves music being played in the hospital over the radio or any audiotape for a few hours, to generate a calm environment. This helps in alleviating stress, and anxiety, and also relaxes patients.

Contemplative Music Therapy:

This type of music therapy generally helps people appreciate the importance of music and art. Before playing the music, the individual or group is provided with a biography of the composer and other details related to the music. The primary aim of this type of music therapy is to soothe agitation and alleviate frustration or depression.

Creative Music Therapy

One more type of music therapy is creative music therapy. Individuals compose music, write songs, and play various instruments. This helps them express their grief, their fear, frustration, and feelings through their music and songs.

Group Music Therapy

Group music therapy helps in strengthening self-esteem and self-confidence. A music therapist teaches singing or music or teaches to play a musical instrument to a group of people. This is usually used for inpatients at hospitals.

Musicians Playing Music

In this type of music therapy, a musician performs in the hospital wards. This therapy is basically used for treating children with autism, mental retardation, or people with emotional or psychological problems.

Exploring The Healing Power Of Music Therapy

Music therapy has been effective in various ways, especially in reducing anxiety and stress, improving cognitive function, enhancing mood, and also improving physical health outcomes like pain management.

Studies have shown that drumming as a complementary therapy can help in producing pleasurable experiences, release emotional trauma, enhances recovery through inducing relaxation, and also create a sense of connectedness with self and others.(1)

More about the healing power of music therapy are as follows.

  1. Reduces Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

One of the major benefits of music therapy is that it helps in healing from conditions like depression, stress, and anxiety. Listening to or creating your music can enhance your mood and also reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. When you listen to music, endorphins or the body’s natural “feel-good” hormones are released, and this ultimately helps in reducing symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.

Apart from this, music therapy also helps you learn to identify and also express your emotion, which in turn benefits you emotionally and psychologically.

  1. Helps With Parkinson’s Disease

The healing power of music therapy is beyond its benefits for depression and anxiety. It also helps in reducing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The Guitar PD study published in the journal “Parkinson’s Disease” in June 2022 has found that playing musical instruments can have positive impacts on the emotional, motor, and cognitive deficits, in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.(2)

  1. Music Helps In Relaxing The Nervous System

Researchers have also found that rhythm has a potential impact on our nervous system.(3) Particularly, simply listening to music can have numerous positive effects on the psychobiological stress system. Music can thus be used to relax our nervous system and that too without any side effects.

  1. Music Therapy Enhances Emotional Wellbeing

Music helps in regulating your emotions. Music therapy has a profound impact on our emotions and thus benefits in improving our emotional well-being. Music therapists can stimulate expressions, and release of stuck emotion by selecting or creating music that matches the patient’s emotional state. This could mainly help people dealing with problems of grief, trauma, stress, depression, and anxiety.

  1. Music Therapy Promotes Relaxation

What could be better than finding relaxation after having stressful thoughts or feelings? Music therapy can promote relaxation by offering a distraction from stress and other emotional feelings. Listening to calm and soothing music generates a sense of peace of mind, and this can ultimately help you find various coping strategies to deal with hard emotions or stressful situations, especially those experienced in hospitals or after the loss of our dear ones.

  1. It Improves Cognitive Functions

Music therapy can aid in improving cognitive functioning, which includes memory, and attention-related functions.

Scientists suggest that several musical elements of rhythm, harmony, melody, and tempo, stimulate a cognitive and emotional response, that comprises the affective component of pain, and it helps to affect our mood positively and thus helps in improved healing.(4) Listening to or playing music stimulates several areas of your brain, which include those responsible for memory, attention, and executive function. This stimulation improves your cognitive functions like your working memory, multitasking, processing speed, and so on. Music therapy is also known to improve communication and language skills.

  1. Music Therapy Helps In Improving Sleep

Nothing can work better than music therapy to provide you good night’s sleep. Listening to relaxing or classical music an hour before sleep time can help in creating a sense of relaxation and results in improved sound sleep.

In various situations, music has significantly improved sleep in both adults and children. Music therapy can be used before bedtime, and this relaxation technique can help the patient fall asleep while promoting their sleep quality.(5)

  1. It Facilitates Physical Rehabilitation and Reduces Pain

Bob Marley has rightly said, “One good thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Music therapy also contributes to physical rehabilitation by promoting coordination, movement, and motor skills. Different musical interventions are used by therapists to improve movements in physically challenged people.

Music has been successfully used to support healing after surgery. A study published in The Lancet in 2015 reports that music had reduced postoperative pain and anxiety and also reduced the need for anti-anxiety drugs.(6) It was also found that music therapy was effective even when patients were under the impact of general anesthesia.

Final Words

Music therapy plays a significant role in healing and transforming lives. Through its unique ability to enhance cognitive function, stimulate emotion, and also facilitate physical rehabilitation, music therapy could be considered one of the most holistic approaches to promote your overall well-being.


  1. Winkelman M. Complementary therapy for addiction: “drumming out drugs”. Am J Public Health. 2003 Apr;93(4):647-51. doi: 10.2105/ajph.93.4.647. PMID: 12660212; PMCID: PMC1447805.
  2. Serap Bastepe-Gray, Lavinia Wainwright, Diane C. Lanham, Gabriela Gomez, Jieung S Kim, Zane Forshee, Bonnie Kaas, Arita McCoy, Colin McGregor, Emile Moukheiber, Suraj Rajan, Gerson Suarez-Cedeno, Jiangxia Wang, Sean Brennan, Shane Coughlin, Kyurim Kang, Alexander Pantelyat, “GuitarPD: A Randomized Pilot Study on the Impact of Nontraditional Guitar Instruction on Functional Movement and Well-Being in Parkinson’s Disease”, Parkinson’s Disease, vol. 2022, Article ID 1061045, 12 pages, 2022. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/pd/2022/1061045/
  3. Thoma MV, La Marca R, Brönnimann R, Finkel L, Ehlert U, Nater UM. The effect of music on the human stress response. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 5;8(8):e70156. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070156. PMID: 23940541; PMCID: PMC3734071.
  4. Chakraborty R (2020, Dcember), ‘Music as healing therapy’ International Journal Of Creative Research Thoughts. V. 8(12), pp;2320-2822.
  5. Anggerainy, S. W., Wanda, D., & Nurhaeni, N. (2019). Music therapy and story telling: Nursing interventions to improve sleep in hospitalized children. Comprehensive Child and Adolescent Nursing, 42(sup1), 82-89. doi:10.1080/24694193.2019.1578299
  6. Hole J. Hirsch M, Ball E, Meads C. (2015, October 24), ‘Music as an aid for postoperative recovery in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis.’ The Lancet. V; 286 (10004), pp; 1659-1671. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60169-6

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 14, 2023

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