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Music Therapy for Anxiety – A Proven Alternative Treatment

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Music therapy for anxiety provides a naturally soothing and relaxing way for you to enhance the effectiveness of any psychotherapy treatment you are undergoing for this condition.

Used alone, it is remarkably effective at calming you and toning your energy levels down to a state of tranquility.
Plus, it’s easily accessible and relatable – I mean, who doesn’t like music?
And, no, you need not have natural musical skills to use it!

Music therapy is an evidence-based health profession backed by a lot of research and music therapists are obligated to possess at least a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy.
This makes the therapist knowledgeable in psychology, medicine and music.

It’s the therapy that children, adolescents, adults, the elderly, and even pandas with mental health needs will benefit from.

The excerpt below, from University Health News Daily, describes how music therapy for anxiety works by affecting your brain and hormone levels:

Music Therapy for Anxiety
How music therapy for anxiety works – University Health News Daily

It is clear from the above, and numerous other studies, that Music Therapy is highly effective in the relief of anxiety, depression, and stress.

The History Behind Music Therapy for Anxiety and Other Conditions

Using music as a healing medium date back to the ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, Egypt, India, and China.
Music therapy, as a profession, was only introduced much later in history.
The Colombian Magazine published the first official article on it in 1789. They named it, “Music Physically Considered”.

Almost a century later, things truly took off.
The following events unfolded around Music therapy as a recognized treatment:

1877 – Music as sedative
Doctors in the USA start using music as a distraction for patients in the operating theater. This later catches on to dentists, pediatrician, gynecologists, and obstetricians.

1891 – The Guild of St. Cecilia
The Guild, consisting of three singers, two violinists, and a harpist, goes to different hospitals in London to play for patients. Doctors report remarkable improvements.

1903 – The National Society of Musical Therapeutics
Eva Augusta Vescelius establish the National Society of Musical Therapeutics in the United States.

1919 – A course in Musicotherapy
The first course in Music Therapy is taught by Margaret Anderson at the University of Columbia and called, “A course in Musicotherapy”.

1926 – The National Association for Music in Hospitals
Isa Maud Ilsen establish the National Association for Music in Hospitals

1941 – The National Foundation of Music Therapy
Harriet Ayer Seymour establish the National Foundation of Music Therapy

1944 – Academic Programs
Michigan State University establish the first academic program in music therapy

1945 – The National Music Council (NMC)
Howard Hanson establish the National Music Council.
The organization forms a committee for the use of music in hospitals.

1950 – The National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT)
After a meeting held in New York on June 2, 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy is founded.

1964 – Journal of Music Therapy
Signifying a huge milestone for the profession, the first issue of the Journal of Music Therapy is published.

1971 – The Urban Federation of Music Therapists
The Urban Federation of Music Therapists is established in the US.
The organization later changes its name to the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT) in 1975.

1983 – The Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT)
The Certification Board for Music Therapists is founded to strengthen the credibility of Music Therapy as a profession.

1985 – First Board Certification Examination
The first National Music Therapy Board Certification Examination is administered

1989 – First Professional Designation
The first advanced professional designation is established – Advanced Certification in Music Therapy (ACMT).

1998 – The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)
The National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) and the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT) merges to form The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
It is currently the largest Music Therapy Association in the world.

2010 – AMTA Publish first Online Magazine
The online magazine, Imagine, is published.
It focuses on early childhood music therapy.

Methods Applied in Music Therapy

It doesn’t matter if you have musical skills or not. Your music therapist will take several factors into consideration before deciding on a treatment process for you.
They will consider your interests, physical health, communication abilities, cognitive skills, to name but a few before presenting you with either the creative/active or receptive process.Perhaps you will do a combination of both. It will all depend on the individual, really.

Active Process
During this process, the therapist will engage you in actively composing or creating music.

Receptive Process
During this process the therapist will engage you with various music listening experiences.

What Can You Expect From a Music Therapy Session?

You may attend a music therapy session on a one-on-one basis or as part of a group. The sessions generally last between 30 and 60 minutes each.
The session you will attend and the content of each will all depend on your personal needs.
Sessions usually take place in areas free of disturbances and noise. The therapist sets the area up to induce a tranquil state in the patient.

Your session starts with a tone-setting introductory opening by the music therapist.
The therapist may use the same opening every week, or a different one.

Some examples of openings include:

  • Singing a song – A “Welcome” song, for example (usually in group sessions).
  • Doing a check-in – The therapist finds out how you are doing at that moment.
  • Reviewing – The therapist may open by reviewing the previous session.

Next, the music therapy interventions start.

Depending on the treatment process chosen for you, you will now either be playing, composing, improvising, or listening to music.
A session may even include combinations of these interventions.

At the end of the session, they will do a closing.
Some examples of closings include:

  • Singing a song – A “Goodbye” song, for example (usually in group sessions).
  • Doing a closing check-in – The therapist asks how you are feeling now.
  • Summarizing – The therapist provides a summary of the session.

Misconceptions about Music Therapy

Music therapy is well-established in the healthcare world and comes backed with many scientific validation and studies.
Yet, there are nevertheless a number of misconceptions concerning the field.
Here are a few:

#1 Music therapy is not a “real” degree or job
It’s easy to think this way. After all, it’s just playing or making some music, right? Surely anyone can do it, right?

Wrong.

A Music therapy qualification requires as much hard work, dedication, and standards as any other degree.
Music therapists are trained clinicians who use music as their method of healing.
They have to complete a degree in Music Therapy, a 1200-hour clinical internship and do a board examination with the Certification Board for Music Therapists.

#2 Music abilities is a must
This is an absolute myth.

There are two approaches that a Music therapist can adopt for treatment.
Which one is applied, will depend on your individual competences.
Your music therapist will determine this at the start of your first session.

If you are musically inclined or have a skill in music, your sessions may consist of you composing or performing music.
If you’re not that musical, your session may consist of the therapist offering you various listening experiences.

#3 Music therapy is only for children
Nope.

Music therapy is for ALL ages, whether you’re 1 or 100 years old.

Such is the power of music.
It can provide physical and psychological wellbeing to any individual, regardless of age.

#4 Listening to music on your own is the same as Music therapy
Although listening to your own music can be therapeutic and relaxing, it is important to remember that a Music therapist is trained to use music, just as a doctor is trained to use medicine to heal whatever it is that you need healing.

The path to change is easier, quicker, and more permanent with a trained therapist than going at it solo.

Music Therapy for Anxiety – Research

There are many studies proving Music therapy to be a noninvasive alternative treatment for anxiety and depression with no side-effects.

Findings from a 2016 study confirmed a favorable effect of music on anxiety and depressed states in Cancer patients and they recommended it to implement this form of treatment as part of nursing care services.
They further found music therapy beneficial in the treatment of patients having to undergo cesareans, patients in ICU, and patients having to undergo abdominal surgery.

Numerous studies have also been performed on the effects of using music therapy for anxiety and depression levels of patients who suffer from traumatic brain injury.
In one study, music therapy showed a substantial improvement in mood right from the first session.

They noted significant reduction in anxiety and depression from the 10th session until the end of the trial.

A study on the effects of this therapy on Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) was also done in 2015.
The results showed a considerable decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms although additional studies are needed to corroborate this data.

As mentioned, the list of studies available on Music therapy and its effects on anxiety and depression is extensive.
Follow THIS LINK for a full list of studies and journals published on the topic.

Is Music Therapy Covered by Health Insurance?

There is a great possibility that your Music therapy sessions are covered by your health insurance or medicare.
Your best bet is to check in with your insurer or read over your cover details to find out if this therapy forms part of the cover.

You may be liable to a co-payment, or have restrictions on the number of sessions you can attend.
You must be referred to this treatment by a GP, psychiatrist, or the likes.
The terms and conditions will differ, depending on your insurer and cover plan.

TO FIND A CERTIFIED MUSIC THERAPIST IN YOUR AREA, FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE CERTIFICATION BOARD OF MUSIC THERAPISTS CERTIFIED MUSIC THERAPIST SEARCH PAGE.

A Song that Reduces Anxiety? Check Out This New Discovery!

Get this! A study by neuroscientist, Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson determined one specific song to be capable of reducing your anxiety by up to 65%! It also reduces physiological resting rates by 35%!

That’s some impressive numbers!

The song is called “Weightless”, by Marconi Union.
Listen to it for yourself, and be sure to let AnxietyPanda know what you experienced 🙂
AnxietyPanda Warning! Do not listen to this while driving! You will get drowsy.

The album is also available for purchase on iTunes

The video is pretty awesome too!

The song was created with the intention of inducing high states of relaxation. The musicians collaborated with music therapists in order to come up with the perfect sound combination for ultimate relaxation.

Have you or someone close to you had a Music Therapy Session? Do you suffer from anxiety and think this type of therapy might work for you? Please share your experiences with AnxietyPanda in the comment section. Please also share this article with your friends and family on social media. You never know when just the sharing of an article may change the course of someone’s life for the good 😉

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  1. Chris Chris

    A really interesting article, and medical procedure to handle the condition of anxiety/stress. 

    It makes perfect sense really – 99.9% of us love music and we all have those songs that give us that ‘buzz’. Do you know if the music is selected as a favourite of the patient or is it randomly picked by the medical professional in charge?

    • AnxietyPanda AnxietyPanda

      Hi Chris! Thanks for commenting!
      In one-on-one music therapy sessions, the music is usually selected as a favorite of the patient 🙂 The type of music selected will also depend on the type of condition that needs treating.

  2. mzakapon mzakapon

    This article is great informative post about music therapy for anxiety. I always listen music when I feel bad or mentally sick but I did not realize that this is one kind of treatment for anxiety. Though I have not attended any music therapy session, I think that this resourceful information will be helpful for those who feels mentally disturbed, loneliness and tension. Thanks for sharing this information.

  3. Dianne Dianne

    Hi. it’s actually really interesting to see just how far back in time music therapy has been used. The results from the 2016 study are interesting especially for cancer patients, music is a great therapy in my opinion and can do wonders to lighten the mind and bring you to a relaxed, calmed and happier mood. Thanks for this very informative post.

  4. Jayde Butcher Jayde Butcher

    I find music really helps bring my spirits back up if I’m having a bad day, it’s a great therapy to use I agree. thank you for the locations near me, I will look into these therapy session, happy music is like a happy pill which is so much better then  then any mediation! It’s crazy how music is that powerful. 

  5. Emmanuel Buysse Emmanuel Buysse

    Great post and good info. 

    For people with anxiety this can really help. 

    I know somebody who has this, and it is very hard to calm her down, I honestly never thought about music. 

    I will talk with her man, and show him this post, and I’m pretty sure he will try it with her. 

    Thanks a lot for this. 

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