Music and Art Therapy: A soothing accompaniment to a clinical world

When you hear the word ‘treatment’ what do you think of?

If you are like most people, things like beeping machines, stark white coats, and cold, sterile walls may come to mind.

You’re not wrong. Many treatments sound, look and feel just like that. Noisy. Scary. Uncomfortable.

What if there was another type of treatment? One that was just the opposite. A treatment that was soothing to the ears, gentle to the touch, and calming to the mind. One that worked in order to support other medical procedures that could make other treatments more comfortable, speed up the healing process, and improve the overall quality of life.

Well, there’s not just one treatment like that. There are two.

They are called Music Therapy and Art Therapy.

What is Music Therapy?

The AMTA (American Music Therapy Association) defines music therapy as: the clinical & 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.

Music therapy can involve listening to music, singing, playing musical instruments, or composing music and more. The techniques used depend on the individual we are working with and what (non-musical) goals we are trying to achieve. Musical skills or talents are not required for individuals to benefit from this therapy and it has been proven to heal in so many ways.

Music therapy treatments can address a variety of health-related goals:

  • Promote Wellness
  • Manage Stress
  • Assists in Pain management
  • Express Feelings
  • Enhance Memory
  • Improve Communication
  • Promote Physical Rehabilitation and more

How does Music Therapy work?

Music has the ability to do some powerful things to our minds.

  • Grabs our attention – Helps distract from negative things like worry, pain, anxiety
  • Helps to modulate our emotions – Elicits control over our feelings
  • Modulates behavior – Evokes and conditions things like movement patterns involved with walking and speaking
  • Affects communication – As a means of communication it can play a significant role in relationships

The therapist makes use of all of these responses to music, and the creation of it, to encourage positive changes in mood and overall well-being.

What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy began as a discipline in the 1940s, became more widespread in the 1970s and today is a part of the growing field of expressive art therapies, a family which includes music and drama therapy. It offers a fresh look at mental health and wellness. Its professionals use the art-making process to build, strengthen, resolve, and heal, often in many ways that other treatments cannot. With an art therapist, patients explore their emotions, understand conflicts or feelings that are causing them distress, and use art to help them find resolutions to those issues.

It can help with conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Grief
  • Self-image and self-awareness issues

How Does Art Therapy work?

More than simply ‘drawing your feelings’, art therapy is a non-verbal approach to understanding thoughts and feelings. Expressing your feelings and experiences can be extremely powerful, especially when addressing issues that are difficult to talk about. Complex emotions expressed and explored via art are sometimes impossible to do with words alone.

During a session, the art therapist works with clients to discover and understand what is causing them distress. Then, together, they use art to help find resolutions to those issues.

How do Music and Art Therapy work alongside standard treatments?

First, let’s talk about Music Therapy.

From operating rooms to family clinics, musical interventions can play a role in helping to heal. As discussed in the book “This is Your Brain on Music” (Plume/Penguin, 2007) researchers discovered that listening to and playing music can increase the body’s production of its natural killer cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system’s effectiveness. Music also reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, hence the reason that music is associated with relaxation.

Other studies second the evidence of the reduction of cortisol by suggesting that music therapy can reduce feelings of anxiety, including people with cancer, those undergoing surgery, and individuals going into intensive care units.

One of the most important uses for music therapy alongside standard medical treatments is for pain management. Music can not only distract the mind from pain, but it can also encourage the brain to completely reinterpret the pain signals.

Isn’t that music to your ears?

So, what about Art Therapy?

How does IT work hand-in-hand with standard treatments?

Let’s look at someone living with cancer. For them, Art Therapy can be an escape from the anxiety of the treatments, the fear of the future, and the rollercoaster of emotions that come along with it all.

Then there was the study talked about in the February 2018 issue of The Arts in Psychotherapy looked at close to 200 people that were hospitalized for a medical issue or surgery. The researchers discovered that by participating in art therapy, this group had improved their moods and lowered their levels of pain and anxiety.

Because of its mental health benefits, Art Therapy is often used as a complement to traditional mental health treatments. Studies have shown that when those struggling with things like anxiety, depression, or emotional trauma create art, their bodies release dopamine. This dopamine, or feel-good neurotransmitter, is released when we do something pleasurable, causing us to feel happier and more joyful. These feelings help to counter negative feelings and emotions.

The results of today’s standard medical treatments can be amazing.

Even more amazing is that when these treatments are combined with the soothing and creative therapies of Music and Art, there can be less pain, reduced anxiety, and improved overall quality of life.

Do you have a loved one experiencing a life challenge and you would like to see if Music or Art Therapy could help them?

Reach out to us today.


Healing Harmonies takes the soothing sounds of music therapy and combine it with the creative expression of art therapy to form the perfect harmony of healing solutions. Our diverse offerings mean we have a customized treatment solution just for you. Even better, we provide our services with compassion and integrity through our caring and board-certified team.


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