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 and stressors without causing you the worry of finding the right medication. Along with this you then have no need to worry about the possibility of forming a dependency on that prescription if you are lucky enough to find one that works for you and that your healthcare plan covers. Music therapy is a wonderful resource alongside these 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:

  • First, Some Background Information on What Music Therapy Actually Is and Does  
  • The Benefits of Music Therapy
  • The Potential Drawbacks of Music Therapy

First, Some Background Information on What Music Therapy Actually 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 are often well versed not only in the realm of the musical but in the clinical as well, many specializing 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 patients may be experiencing but it actually alleviates physical pain. Because 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 which in turn allows individuals to feel more comfortable in social situations. Because social interactions can be a source of anxiety for many autistic individuals, having an instrument and a 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, in particular, allows them to engage with music on a tactile level. This physical interaction helps children’s fine motor skills develop while they are playing around with instruments and music as a form of communication for the first time. Music therapy also has the potential to support children’s still developing cognitive functions. Music therapy also promotes children’s ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings which can often be difficult for kids of a young age.  

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 in stressful situations, a stronger ability to convey emotions, and a general improvement of 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, whether it be through a one on one session or in a group setting. 

Music therapy also very commonly boosts individuals’ self-esteem as they learn to engage with music, play music, and even write their own music. This is in part 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 will be certain music that may 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 being played due to events in their past or something of the sort. It is also possible to be overstimulated or overwhelmed by music, but this is a problem of managing how you are engaging with music therapy and learning to tailor it 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 emotions that may have previously been bottled up. If there were any drawbacks to seeking out relief through music therapy then for the most part they would really only be in gaining access to it. 

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. These parents will not be likely to have a considerable amount of time to spend in music therapy sessions with their children even though they may want to. Along with that concern is the question of 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 to it offered by most healthcare plans. 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 you may be experiencing there are practically no cons to be found!

Lily Taggart
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