Almost everyone has experienced the emotional effects of music from time to time. Whether it’s chilling out to your favorite tunes or blasting the pump-up tracks before a workout, there’s no denying that music can change how we think and feel. But did you know that music can be utilized by allied health professionals to improve their clients’ physical health?

Enter music therapy, defined by the American Musical Therapy Association as “an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.” This therapy can be used alone or with other treatments to “jazz” up the interventions and help people of all ages.

Who Can Benefit?

Music therapy is often used with children and adolescents, especially those with mood disorders or ADHD. It can also help individuals recovering from substance abuse issues, as well as other health conditions affecting people of all ages.

As individuals get older, the opportunities to utilize music therapy actually increase! Geriatric difficulties like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be soothed with the help of a professional music therapist. This unique therapy has even gone toe to toe with traditional relaxation techniques; one study found that it was more effective in promoting the wellbeing of people in palliative care situations.

Outside of mental health, music can also help enhance your workout. Studies show that listening to music can change heart rate, affect blood pressure, change metabolic rate, reduce physical and mental stress, and reduce fatigue.

How Does It Work?

Luckily for us, professionals have spent hundreds of years fine-tuning the music therapy process so that it can strike a chord with even the most reluctant clients. It’s also important to understand that this technique can be utilized by everyone, even those with no previous musical training or experience. So don’t be afraid to face the music!

There are generally two types of music therapy: active and receptive. In the active style, clients work with a therapist to play along with or create music. This experience can encourage participants to share thoughts and feelings, helping them address mental or physical health issues.

Receptive therapy is more passive and involves listening to music while talking, meditating, or engaging in physical activities. This is often used for patients who need help relaxing or controlling their mood, as well as with motivation during an activity. These therapies can be conducted alone or in a group and usually last less than an hour, so they can fit into anyone’s schedule and comfort level.

Some people have passed off music therapy as a useless pseudo-science, and maybe you did too. But with all the convincing evidence, it might be time to change your tune and give it a try. How do you use music to benefit your health?