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.