These Are the Pros of Music Therapy-- But Are There Really Any Cons?

What are the Possible Benefits that Music Therapy has for you?

Pain and stress management often carry with them the baggage of managing medications and expensive doctors visits. One of the great things about music therapy is that it offers relief from physical and mental pain, without causing you the worry of finding the right medication. Music therapy is a wonderful resource alongside other forms of pain medications or psychotherapies that can cause their own feelings of distress. Here is some information on what exactly music therapy is, and the (many) pros and (far fewer) cons of finding a music therapist.

The hands of someone in a gray and red striped sweater playing a keyboard.
Playing music can be equally as relaxing as listening to music can be and is even more stimulating and engaging. 

What you will find in this blog post:

  • What Music Therapy  Is and Does  
  • The Benefits of Music Therapy
  • The Potential Drawbacks of Music Therapy

What Music Therapy Is and Does 

Music therapy can mean many different things. A music therapy session could mean listening to music, writing a song, or learning to play a piece of music. Music therapists can specialize in treating chronic pain or psychological disorders. 

Music therapy can be utilized in many different situations and environments. Music therapy is incredibly useful as a resource in hospitals where people tend to feel more anxiety based upon several environmental factors. Not only does music therapy relieve mental distress, but it actually alleviates physical pain. It can be stressful simply to be in a hospital with a loved one, and being in the hospital for long stays can cause intense distress for people. Music therapy offers people the chance to express or process some of these feelings of anxiety through singing, playing music in groups, or listening to music. 

Music therapy has also been shown to help patients with autism gain more focus and attention and relieve some anxiety. This allows individuals to feel more comfortable in social situations. Since social interactions can be a source of anxiety for many autistic individuals, having an instrument and/or musical program as a link to other people can dramatically decrease anxiety in social situations. 

The introduction of musical instruments into the lives of young children, allow them to engage with music on a tactile level. This physical interaction helps a child's fine motor skills develop. Music therapy also has the potential to support a child's cognitive function. Music therapy also helps children communicate their thoughts and feelings which can often be difficult to do.

Someone standing in front of a blue wall with a smile on their face and headphones on looking at their phone while listening to music
Listening to relaxing music lowers your heart rate and can allow for a restorative release of emotions.

The Benefits of Music Therapy 

There are countless benefits to music therapy. For many patients, music therapy offers improved moods, effective coping mechanisms,, a stronger ability to convey emotions, and a general improvement in their quality of life. 

Music therapy relieves pain and anxiety and does so in a way that encourages open communication. The release of emotions that come with engaging with music is part of what makes music therapy so effective. Because music can promote that kind of emotional release, it makes it the perfect way to engage with therapy. This can occur through a one on one session or in a group setting. 

Music therapy also boosts individuals’ self-esteem as they learn to engage, play, and write their own music. This is why music therapy is so effective in relieving feelings of stress, depression, or even physical pain. 

A person in a turtle neck looking peaceful with their eyes closed while holding an electric guitar.
Consistent music therapy sessions can give individuals the tools to dramatically reduce the day to day anxiety that they experience. 

The Potential Drawbacks of Music Therapy 

Music therapy itself does not actually have many reported drawbacks or negative side effects. Of course, there may be certain types of music that cause an increase in anxiety for certain people as opposed to relieving stress. This may happen if an individual has specific negative associations with a particular song or genre of music. It is also possible to be overstimulated or overwhelmed by music. However,  this can be addressed by the music therapist, as they learn to tailor the session to your own specific needs.

Overall there really are no cons or negative effects of trying out music therapy. It offers many people immense anxiety relief and an opportunity to consider and examine their emotions.

Music therapy is not an instant fix for issues with anxiety, stress, or depression. In order to see real and lasting benefits with music therapy, one has to be committed to spending quite a bit of time engaging with it. This time commitment may be difficult for some, especially for parents with children in music therapy. Another possible con is cost. It is not likely that every person interested in music therapy will have a health coverage plan that offers them the opportunity to take part in music therapy sessions. 

In short, the most prominent disadvantages are not to do with music therapy itself, but with the lack of accessibility and cost of it. Despite these possible roadblocks to finding a music therapist, if you are able to find one that you connect with and helps you resolve anxiety or stress, there are practically no cons to be found!

Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 19, 2021

Lily Taggart
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