How Music Therapy Can Improve Your Mental Health

Music therapy is used in many cultures all over the world to treat different mental ailments.

In Northern and Eastern Africa and the Persian Gulf there is the Zār healing dance. In the Nyae Nyae region in South West Africa there is the Medicine Dance of the ǃKung Bushmen. These are only two of many examples of music and dance having therapeutic benefits for people struggling with mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.

The western world has taken longer to recognize the therapeutic impact of music. Recently, however, there has been a growing movement of therapists and musicians who acknowledge the huge benefits of music therapy. Music and rhythmic movement is useful for controlling pain and speeding up healing, both mentally and physically.

This feature on the BBC highlights an excellent example of the beneficial impact of music. The article is based on an interview with Wayne Webster, a rapper with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Types of Music Therapy

One does not need to be a musician to experience the benefits of music therapy. Treatment can involve writing or playing music, singing or writing songs, dancing or even just listening to music.

Therapeutic approaches can be active or receptive. Active music therapy engages patients in the act of making music. Receptive music therapy, on the other hand, involves clients in listening and reacting to live or recorded music

The following are some of the most popular music therapies in use:

  • The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music is a technique developed by Helen Lindquist Bonny. It involves a combination of imagery and music. This acts as a starting point for a discussion between the therapist and the patient.
  • The Dalcroze Method is a technique developed by Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. It focuses on rhythm, structure, and movement.
  • The Zoltán Kodály Method uses a base of rhythm, notation, sequence, and movement. The goal is to help a patient relax and focus in a therapeutic setting.
  • The Nordoff-Robbins Method is based on patients finding meaning and benefit from music. It focuses on music creation with the help of a trained music therapist. 

Music speaks to our soul and then it lifts our mood. So the next time you feel overwhelmed, or depression threatens to take over, listen to some music and let it work its magic. You can also explore therapeutic options with your therapist.

For Further Reading

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links. When you use one of my affiliate links, the company compensates me. At no additional cost to you, I’ll earn a commission, which helps me run this blog and keep my in-depth content free of charge for all my readers.

2 thoughts on “How Music Therapy Can Improve Your Mental Health”

  1. Hi Carla,
    I follow you on twitter and now realise you have this wonderful website.
    Music for me takes me to a place where I can feel energy which feeds my soul. I live with agoraphobia, I only just manage to go to the grocery store but still it’s overwhelming. The only thing that makes it tolerable is to have ear phones with music playing. It’s soothing and blocks out the subliminal background noise.
    My father had dementia and lived in a community home, music therapy was used and was successful for patients like him. Many couldn’t speak but could sing their favourite songs.
    Thanks so much…Annie

    • Hi Annie, thanks for visiting my site and for sharing you r experience. I am so very glad that music is improving both your and your father’s quality of life! I’m sending you a big hug and lots of positive thoughts 🙂


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