What Is Music Therapy? Plus 3 Exercises To Try

By Anika Nayak

Did you know music is a form of therapy? Yes, that’s right. The melodious tunes you listen to can help you feel relaxed and calm, according to experts in the field. Research shows that music is such a powerful tool that it can be used as a therapy to help promote mental wellness. Here, we breakdown what music therapy is, the benefits, and some exercises you can try at home to feel happier and more relaxed. 

What is Music Therapy? 

According to the American Music Therapy Association, this therapy is the use of music interventions to “accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” All music therapists have to complete an examination administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists in order to provide music therapy. They work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, community mental health centers, halfway houses, and schools. 

There are many different types of music therapy, including but not limited to songwriting, listening to music, or even playing an instrument. The music interventions used in therapy will vary based on your specific goal as no one size fits all. There are a variety of techniques and styles of music therapy that your therapist may deliver based on their expertise and education. 

Benefits of Music Therapy

There is a growing body of research to suggest that music therapy is helpful for individuals experiencing depression, anxiety, insomnia and other disorders. However, more analysis needs to be done to establish the type, duration, and results of music therapy in improving individuals’ health. Here are some of the research-backed benefits of engaging in music therapy:

Music Therapy Exercises to Try

Music therapy offers a myriad of benefits that promote good health and wellbeing. To get started with music therapy, experts recommend searching the American Music Therapy Association’s directory to find an expert near you. Here are three exercises you can try in your routine to experience the benefits of music therapy: 

  1. Listen to a relaxing song and draw what you hear. Document all your drawings in a notebook that you can reference for this exercise over and over again.
  2. Play a song that helps you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Try analyzing the lyrics and highlighting phrases that stand out to you. 
  3. Create a playlist of mindfulness music that you can access whenever you experience intense emotions. 

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