The American Music Therapy Association’s definition of music therapy is, “..the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship…” A patient does not need to have a particular musical skill to participate in and benefit from music therapy. Because of the highly emotional nature of drug and alcohol addiction treatment , music therapy is immensely valuable in recovery.
Music therapists do not “teach,” music, rather they utilize music in the treatment of patients to assist in the assessment of patient emotions, social functioning, physical health, and communication skills. In addition, music therapists utilize musical interventions in the treatment of patients. Music tends to induce feelings, which are brought to the surface and are then therapeutically processed with the music therapist and with the group. The music therapist will also participate in patient diagnosis and in treatment planning, along with the rest of the treatment team and the patient.
Because music utilizes different parts of the brain, then does reading or listening to language for example, it is a different way to process events, feelings, and challenges. During music therapy sessions, the therapist may utilize cognitive behavioral therapy , psychodynamic therapy, guided imagery, and other commonly used traditional modalities of therapy.
Music therapy sessions can include processing feelings and mood changes that occur while listening to music, songwriting, and playing musical instruments. Music therapy is also highly valuable in processing anger and can be used as an anger management cooping skill. Because music is a highly expressive art, by participating in music therapy, drug addicts, alcoholics, and those with emotional problems can express emotions in ways that are not available in traditional talk therapy.
The drug and alcohol rehab program at Behavioral Wellness and Recovery utilizes music therapy in the following ways:
- Listening to music to elicit an emotional response
- Encouraging patients to utilize insight, creative problem solving skills, and abstract thinking in analyzing and relating to music and musical lyrics
- Utilizing positive communication and relationship building skills to share thoughts, experiences, and emotions with peers and staff
- Forming recovery alliances
- Empathizing with different perspectives
- Utilizing positive coping skills
- Making healthy decisions
- Utilizing strengths to overcome obstacles
- Challenging negative thinking patterns
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