Music Heals: The Benefits of Music Therapy

December 15, 2022
music therapy

For most of us, music is a key part of our daily lives. From folding laundry to working out, music can help pump you up, increasing overall enjoyment and motivation. Or in other cases, music can also promote total relaxation. Think about how moving some songs can be, instantly impacting the way you feel. Now, think of this powerful effect music can have when used in therapy.

Music therapy is the use of music by a qualified music therapist to address a person’s physical, emotional, cognitive or social needs. Music therapists design treatment sessions based on a person’s particular needs. Treatment options include creating, singing, moving to or listening to music.

Because music can have such an impact on a person’s mindset and well-being, it should come as no surprise that music therapy has been studied for use in managing many medical and social conditions.

Laura Chami, Music Therapist from Catholic Hospice, highlights some of the benefits music therapy has on health and well-being:

Reduces stress and anxiety. Listening to ‘relaxing’ music (generally considered to have a slow tempo, low pitch, and no lyrics) has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in healthy people and people undergoing medical procedures (e.g., surgery, dental, colonoscopy).
Ex. In studies of people with cancer, listening to music combined with standard care reduced anxiety compared to those who received standard care alone.

Helps children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Children and adults with autism can struggle with communicating their emotions and empathizing with others, along with various other debilitating symptoms, but music therapy has been found to ease some of the internal stress and obstacles to interaction and engagement.

Improves memory. The repetitive elements of rhythm and melody help our brains form patterns that enhance memory. In a study of stroke survivors, listening to music helped them experience more verbal memory, less confusion, and better-focused attention.

Eases pain. Music, it turns out, can majorly alter our perception of pain. Studies of people on ventilators, pediatric patients who had undergone surgery, patients suffering from chronic pain due to back problems, or neurological issues, and cancer patients—to name a few—all show that music therapy reduced participants’ reported pain levels.

Provides comfort. Music therapy has also been used to help enhance communication, coping, and expression of feelings such as fear, loneliness, and anger in patients who have a serious illness, and who are in end-of-life care.

Improves cognition. Listening to music can also help people with Alzheimer’s recall seemingly lost memories and even help maintain some mental abilities.

Soothes premature babies. Live music and lullabies may impact vital signs, improve feeding behaviors and sucking patterns in premature infants, and may increase prolonged periods of quiet–alert states.

Music therapy might seem a little out there, but for many people, it can be a helpful tool to address pain, depression, or other issues.

To learn more about the benefits of music therapy ad our other therapeutic programs visit