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Music Therapy

man hits a bongo in a music therapy program in massachusetts If you’ve ever listened to a song to lift your spirits or help you wind down after a stressful day, you know how powerful music can be. People use music to cope all the time, but it can also play a major role in professional treatment for mental health and addiction recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling, consider music therapy as a component of an effective treatment program. Call 888.568.2057 or reach out online to talk to our caring team at NuLife Behavioral Health. We offer addiction and mental health treatment programs in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, or Indiana. Our accredited music therapy program can be part of many of our larger offerings. 

How Music Therapy Can Fit into Addiction Treatment

As part of a treatment program for addiction recovery, a specially trained therapist provides music sessions to clients. The therapist develops specific goals aligned with each client’s needs as well as their broader treatment protocol. Clients need not have any musical background themselves. Instead, receptivity and appreciation for at least one style of music are all that is needed.

One of the great things about music therapy is that it can be an effective component of many program types, including intensive inpatient, group therapy, and outpatient. Music therapy is also highly customizable. For example, a trained music therapist first identifies what style of music a client already enjoys and then uses this as a core component in their treatment plan. 

The potential benefits of music therapy within an addiction treatment program include: 

  • Distraction from cravings when they occur
  • Tools for generating self-esteem and motivation
  • Greater ability to reduce the consequences of stressful situations
  • More avenues to cope with feelings of remorse, regret, guilt, etc. when they come up
  • Improved memory and attention
  • Healthy social relationships developed through shared musical interest
  • Increased ability to communicate effectively
  • Emotional self-regulation 
  • Elevated mood 

Music Therapy and Treatment for Mental Health

Music therapy can also be very effective for mental health treatment when combined with traditional treatment modalities. These may include talk therapy and medication if appropriate. Conditions that respond well to music therapy include depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Just as with clients working toward substance abuse recovery, music therapy offers many benefits for those combating mental illness: 

  • Increased coping skills to deal with symptoms like dysregulation or panic, such as breathing techniques, relaxation, distraction, and rhythmic grounding
  • Greater tolerance for frustration due to triggers through techniques like self-expression and relaxation
  • Safe and contained emotional expression 
  • Improved social skills developed in the safety of therapy and applied in everyday life
  • Greater self-compassion and esteem gained through reflection and creative expression

What to Expect from Music Therapy for Mental Health or Substance Abuse Recovery

Music therapy includes several basic techniques, which therapists may choose from or combine in each client’s unique treatment plan. Some common techniques include: 

  • Active music listening: This neuroscientific technique takes advantage of music’s physical effects on the brain. Its rhythm and repetition engage the neocortex, creating calm feelings and decreasing impulsivity. Therapists sometimes help shift clients’ aggravated moods first by playing music that matches their current mood and then gradually shifting into music that promotes calm. 
  • Lyric analysis: The therapist encourages the client to discuss the themes or meanings of a song as a gateway to self-expression. This is a powerful tool because it creates a bridge from the client to an external story. This, in turn, reduces feelings of isolation and allows them to approach tough content in a non-confrontational way. 
  • Songwriting: This tool is profoundly effective for self-expression. Again, clients don’t need any previous experience, and the process can build validation, self-worth, and pride.
  • Improvisation: Playing instruments or singing benefits clients because it supports socialization, emotional expression, and self-regulation. Improv also creates a safe container for exploring mental health themes like escalation and de-escalation. This, in turn, is a great starting point for reflective conversation.  

Reach Out to NuLife Recovery Massachusetts for More Information on Music Therapy

Why wait another moment to start reaping the benefits of music therapy? Call our caring staff at NuLife Behavioral Health at 888.568.2057 or write to us online for more information. We currently serve clients in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Indiana, and Illinois but are also happy to provide referrals.