Because music has the potential to influence us both psychologically and physiologically, it is an important area of therapy for stress management. Music therapy can make use of biofeedback, guided imagery, and other established techniques to play an important role in the treatment of people with stress-related disorders. But due to the dramatic effects music can have, a trained and knowledgeable music therapist always is required.
When used in combination with biofeedback techniques, music can reduce tension and facilitate the relaxation response. It may be more compatible with relaxation than verbal stimuli, which may be distracting — music is processed mainly in nonverbal areas of the brain.
Music may help people to identify and express the feelings associated with their stress. In a music therapy session, the client can express these emotions, providing an important cathartic release.
Producing music in an improvisational way, and discussing pieces of music and lyrics in a group, can also help us become more aware of our emotional reactions and share them constructively with the group.
Thinking More Clearly
Finally, listening to music can help the brain by improving learning and memory skills, always useful when we’re under stress. This has come to be known as “The Mozart Effect.” Experiments carried out by scientists at the University of California at Irvine found that students’ test scores improved after listening to a recording of Mozart, compared with either a relaxation tape or silence. This may be because the processing of music shares some of the same pathways in the brain as memory.
Allen K. et al. Normalization of hypertensive responses during ambulatory surgical stress by perioperative music. Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 63, May/June 2001, pp. 487-92.
Aldridge D., Gustoff D. and Neugebauer L. A pilot study of music therapy in the treatment of children with developmental delay. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Vol. 3, October 1995, pp. 197-205.
Hanser S. B. and Thompson L. W. Effects of a music therapy strategy on depressed older adults. Stanford University School of Medicine. Journal of Gerontology, Vol. 49, November 1994, pp. 265-69.
Good M. A comparison of the effects of jaw relaxation and music on postoperative
pain. Nursing Research, Vol. 44, Jan/Feb 1995, pp. 52-57.
Bittman B. B. Recreational music-making: an integrative group intervention for reducing burnout and improving mood states in first year associate degree nursing students: insights and economic impact. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, published online July 9, 2004.
Waldon E. G. The effects of group music therapy on mood states and cohesiveness in adult oncology patients. Journal of Music Therapy, Vol. 38, Fall 2001, pp. 212-38.
Burns D. S. The effect of the bonny method of guided imagery and music on the mood and life quality of cancer patients. Journal of Music Therapy, Vol. 38, Spring 2001, pp. 51-65.
Rauscher F. H., Shaw G. L. and Ky K. N. Music and spatial task performance. Nature, Vol. 365, October 14, 1993, p. 611.
Collingwood, J. (2007). The Power of Music To Reduce Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/000930
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.