Music therapy

There are many addiction therapies that are used to supplement rehab treatment programmes. Music therapy has long been one of the most commonly used because of its unique ability to reach people on an emotional level and help them to express themselves. But how does music therapy work in practice? And what does a music therapy session entail?

Here is everything you need to know about music therapy for addiction treatment, including what music therapy is, how it works, and the different ways it can be used in addiction recovery.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is an evidence-based clinical practice that uses music interventions to achieve non-musical goals. A music therapist will assess your individual and develop a treatment plan to address them.

Music therapy sessions can involve a wide range of activities, from listening to music and discussing the emotions it evokes to playing musical instruments and song writing. The aim of music therapy is to provide an outlet for self-expression and emotion that can be helpful in managing difficult feelings and triggers for substance abuse.

Why is music therapy an effective treatment?

Music is incredibly powerful. In fact, it is so powerful that it has a very definite impact on short-term mood and cognitive ability. Music therapists are highly trained professionals who use their skills and knowledge to harness the power of music to delve into your emotions and help you to work through difficult feelings.

The effects of music on the mind and body are profound enough that it can be harnessed for a number of therapeutic purposes. These include improving communication skills, developing social skills, managing stress and anxiety, reducing symptoms of depression, improving self-esteem, and fostering creativity.

How does music therapy for addiction treatment work?

Music therapy is often used in addiction treatment to help clients deal with withdrawal symptoms, work through trauma, manage cravings, and develop healthy coping skills.

Addiction is not just a physical condition, it is a mental, emotional and psychological one too and music therapy will allow you to delve into these different aspects of your addiction in a safe and controlled environment.

Here are some of the ways music therapy has helped our clients at UKAT:

Encouraging expression
It can be very difficult for people in recovery to verbalise what they are thinking and feeling in a group setting. Fear is a big factor with natural self-preservation instincts kicking in. Music can be used to reduce that fear, thus leading to a greater ability toward verbal self-expression.
Calming the nerves
Recovery and rehab can be a very tough emotional experience in the first few days of a residential programme. When nerves are raw and emotion runs high, music is a great tool to create a much-needed calming effect. Once clients are calm and relaxed, they are often more open to other therapies.
Encouraging creativity
People in recovery often struggle to find an outlet for the energies they used to put into their addictive behaviours. Music provides an outlet that can help focus your attention while in treatment and provide a long-term outlet upon leaving the residential facility.
Improving cognisance
This is one of the most exciting uses of music therapy. Those who come to UKAT for help often have limited cognitive function as a result of their addiction. Music has the unique ability to help clear the fog so that you can focus on your treatment.
Improving physical and mental health
One of the reasons music therapy is such an important part of addiction treatment is that it can help improve both physical and mental health. From reducing stress to improving sleep, music therapy can have a profound effect on your overall wellbeing.
Building self-confidence
Just learning and playing music can build self-confidence which many people in recovery are lacking. This newfound confidence can be critical going forward because it can give you the strength to face difficult situations and make positive changes in your life.

Music therapy and substance abuse treatment

Music therapy in addiction recovery enhances and harmonizes various treatment approaches and therapies, such as dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), by offering a framework that allows for profound introspection and emotional exploration of one’s addiction.

Music therapy can also be used to help you with withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings as it can enable you to relax and focus on something other than your cravings. This is an important tool in the early days of treatment when cravings are at their strongest and after you leave rehab when you don’t have the same level of support.

What happens during a music therapy session?

During a music therapy session, you will be encouraged to express yourself through music. This can be done in a number of ways, including playing an instrument, singing, songwriting, and listening to music. The therapist will use a range of music to help you achieve your goals, from classical to rock and everything in between.

The therapist will also encourage you to talk about your thoughts and feelings during the session. This provides an opportunity for you to explore your emotions in a safe and supportive environment. As you undertake music therapy with the other people in rehab, you will be able to build connections with them and create a strong network where you give and receive support. This connection is critical for effective addiction treatment as it ensures nobody is left alone to struggle.

The benefits of music therapy after leaving rehab

The transition from rehab back to everyday life can be a difficult one because it can be hard to adjust to being in the outside world without the same level of support you had in treatment. Music therapy can help with this adjustment by providing a continued outlet for your thoughts and feelings.

Music therapy can also help you to develop coping mechanisms for dealing with triggers and cravings. These skills will be essential for maintaining your sobriety in the long term, particularly during difficult times in your life or when cravings flare up.

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Frequently asked questions

Which type of music is most effective in treating addiction?
There is no definitive answer to this question as different people respond to different types of music. At UKAT, we include a range of music in our treatment programmes to cater to different tastes. We also have our clients create their own music to help them express their thoughts and feelings about their addiction.
How long does music therapy last?
The length of time you spend in music therapy will depend on your individual treatment programme. You may have weekly sessions for a set period of time or you may have multiple sessions per week with each session lasting between 1 and 1.5 hours. The number and frequency of sessions will be decided by your therapist based on your needs.
Where is music therapy for addiction recovery available?
UKAT provides music therapy at many of our rehab centres across the UK. We have eight top-class centres accessible from everywhere in the country all of which provide the highest standards in facilities and care. To find out more, get in touch with us today and we can help you find the best rehab centre for your recovery needs.