Music Therapy

Your journey toward recovery starts with one of the many treatment services and programs we provide here at The Woods at Parkside. You may have heard about the traditional psychotherapy methods used to treat mental health and substance use struggles, and we use these in our treatments as well. But did you know that music therapy provides a fun, creative space for healing?

Musical therapy is a proven way to assist patients with their recovery goals. We are proud to offer this service in addition to life skills groups and recreational therapy to our patients who struggle with mental health and/or substance use disorders. Read more about this program below to further understand how you can heal through this innovative program.

What is Music Therapy?


Some patients wonder about the effectiveness of music therapy. When you think of this type of therapy, you might visualize that it only consists of listening to music or other inactive, passive activities. However, it is so much more.

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

Musical therapy can be used in any setting; including treatment programs, nursing homes, and schools. Most importantly, it helps a wide range of people who struggle with any of the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood disorders
  • PTSD
  • Substance use disorders and addiction
  • Chronic pain
  • Grief
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Brain injuries
  • other mental health conditions

The key components to music therapy include both active and passive participation. This means that patients, depending on their individual needs, might find healing in playing an instrument or listening to music played by a therapist who has completed an approved music therapy program, such as the Certification Board for Music Therapists.

The first step in taking full advantage of the benefits music therapy offers includes working with a professional who has completed extensive training and certification in American music therapy. These music therapists work with you to foster a therapeutic relationship to rhythm, sound, and movement.

When you begin music therapy sessions, you will work with the professional to step toward recovery using therapeutic musical techniques.

The Benefits of Music Therapy

Patients who participate in music therapy can expect to have:

  • Uplifted mood
  • Positive changes to depressed or anxious thoughts
  • Increased relaxation
  • Improved motivation
  • Development of social skills
  • Relief in physical or emotional pain

In addition to assisting with mental health, music therapy targets emotional, cognitive, and social deficits. Music is meant to help patients feel comfortable and relaxed in situations that can feel overwhelming.

This will further help patients to treat underlying emotional needs as well as develop skills to cope with intense events that may happen in the future.

Studies show that music therapy can cause a physiological response in patients who are undergoing distress. In fact, music therapy can even create a chain of brain cell changes that affect both physical and emotional wellbeing.

Listening to Music and More: 5 Therapeutic Techniques

Our approach to music therapy includes a wide range of instruments and activities. These work in individual and group sessions. Patients find that that they are able to let loose and express themselves in new ways with music therapy. Some of the musical approaches we offer include:

1. Easy Listening Meditation

This element to music therapy is important for patients to learn vital relaxation skills. In these sessions, patients will listen to calming music, often involving nature sounds, and learn to foster a mind-and-body connection.

Calming music encourages the mind to calm and the body to relax. For that reason, you might find that your heartrate slows and your breathing evens during easy listening meditation. This creates a soothing effect that can help treat anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles.

Additionally, the meditation aspect to this therapeutic approach teaches patients to recognize thoughts as they come without judgment and learn how to cleanse their minds of negative feelings.

2. Drum Circles

Drum circles are a recently popular approach that involves group participation. This is useful in group therapy sessions. Drum circles might start as more structured activities and loosen up as they continue, or they might encourage patients to practice free expression.

Patients are able to copy patterns that their peers create as a mindfulness technique. Some patients find it most helpful to use drum circles as an improvisational expression. In all situations, playing an instrument like a drum is useful to get out emotions in a healthy, constructive way.

3. Acoustic Guitars

music therapy guitar


The use of acoustic guitars is seen commonly in this therapy, especially when patients would rather be passive participants. Acoustic music creates a similar calming effect that occurs during meditation. Additionally, these are useful instruments when patients would like to sing along to well-known songs.

Singing is an act that can drastically improve mood, and music therapists might play certain songs on the acoustic guitar that bring positive emotions to patients.

4. Electric Keyboards

Similar to acoustic guitars, electric keyboards can be used as a way for patients to both listen and participate. Older adults might request classical music, which can encourage better concentration and memory-recall.

Moreover, the use of piano or electric keyboards can be an effective method in group sessions to allow patients to hear the music as they sing, clap, or move around.

5. Music Relational Therapy

Perhaps one of the most meaningful benefits to musical therapy is developing social and relational skills. Research shows that when patients of all ages are able to build a trusting, therapeutic relationship with their music therapist, mental health distress decreases significantly.

Furthermore, in group settings, music therapy can act as a type of language that patients can access to build social bonds with their peers. These skills then assist in creating a support system to rely on as you continue through and complete your recovery program.

Get Key Treatment Information

Our trained staff of doctors, psychologists, and mental health counselors are ready to assist you today. For more information on our addiction and mental health treatment options, contact us online or speak to an admissions specialist by calling (614) 471-2552.

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