Music is a Powerful Tool

Music therapy promotes social responses by fostering interpersonal relationships and group coehsion, advancing social skills, enhancing verbal and nonverbal communication, and providing a healthy and nonthreatening outlet for emotional expression. In a study by Cassity at Southeast Lousiana State Hospital, group cohesiveness of adult psychiatric patients increased over those who received nonmusical group therapy.

Music therapy can also enhance other types of medical treatments by providing a realtionship with a health care professional based on enjoyment rather than pain. This helps patients to view their prognosis more positively and cooperate with their treatments.

Greater therapeutic effects can be elicited with live music than recorded music and similarily, with music that is the client's preferred style. Keeping these factors in mind, music can be used in the counseling setting for many purposes. For example, music can be paired with progressive muscle relaxation techniques, guided imagery, and/or biofeedback to promote relaxation. Also, a counselor involved in group work can utilize music to stimulate discussion or act as a catalyst to encourage emotion expression.

Although music can be brought into therapy in a variety of ways by mental health professionals, there is no substitiute for a competent music therapist.