Method to the Gladness: Music Therapy
Let me take some time to dispel some myths about music therapy, and explain how it can fit into an addiction therapy program. One of the things I let patients know is that music therapy is not limited to musicians. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket” or “I’m not musically talented.” That’s OK. I tell the patients that I’m not Simon Cowell and I’m not judging based on musical ability. I see the relief on several faces when I assure them of that fact. The goal of music therapy is not to produce America’s Next Big Sober Star. In music therapy, it’s not about how well you play or sing, but about how playing and singing addresses spiritual, emotional, physical, social and mental well-being. This is also what distinguishes music therapy from music entertainment. For those who don’t know what music therapy is, it can be easy to confuse the two. There’s nothing wrong with jamming to your favorite tunes just for the sake of jamming. Believe me, I’ve done it myself and it feels great. From the outside, watching a group play instruments, listen to music or dance may look like people are just having fun, and I certainly believe that music is intrinsically fun and enjoyable. But there is a method to the gladness. Music listening, playing and performing are tools a music therapist will use to reach nonmusical outcomes. Music therapy is used to:
- Elevate mood
- Reduce pain perception
- Decrease agitation
- Improve perception and expression of feelings
- Learn to talk about addiction
A music therapist uses evidence-based practices and is trained to assess and implement therapy with these methods. Working toward these goals is just a small part of addiction treatment here at Lakeview. For more information on music therapy you can check out the American Music Therapy Association.