by Laura Geftman, LCSW
There’s nothing better than finding that song that you connect with on so many levels. The beat makes you want to move your body, and the lyrics feed your mind. Sometimes it’s even hard to stop listening to it. A little ditty can raise your frequency as it makes you feel understood. So much so someone wrote a song about your shared experience.
In many ways, music is therapy. There are many aspects to use of music in the exploration of managing recovery. The old adage “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” come through in many songs by artists that have been there, too.
Music Therapy for Recovery
Music can help you process emotions, trauma, and grief. It can also be utilized as a regulating or calming agent for anxiety or depression. Therefore music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals. Music can be used to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. It’s been proven to help modulate levels of serotonin, spinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin, and prolactin (source: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep41952). It incorporates creating, singing, moving to and/or listening to music. Often it’s found that clients abilities to express themselves improves through music.
4 Interventions of Music Therapy
Music brings the struggle of mental health to another level…and we’re not just talking about the volume. There are different aspect of listening to music to consider in consciously using it to manage your symptoms. Let’s break it down into the four major interventions of music therapy. 5, 6, 7, 8…
Lyric Analysis We’ve all heard that song. You know the one that perfectly expresses the feeling you’ve never really be able to put into words…let a lone music. It’s kinda of amazing when you hear it. Some songs seem to reach into the depths of your heart or soul and pull from your feelings, right? Lyric Analysis is about that moment. It’s about listening to the words of a song and breaking down how you relate to them. Figuring out how you have come to understand the artists express can provide insight and understanding into your own experience.
This process can provide a a less-threatening approach to process emotions by offering insight about a songs theme or lyrics. It can help you learn how to manage your emotions differently with new coping strategies. It’s pretty incredible to hear that someone else (and if you think about how popular the song is than you know many people…) have experienced something similar. It provides a sense of normalcy. Sharing the song creates common understanding of the emotions set to music.
So spend some time thinking about WHY you like a song. Is it the lyrics? What about them? Share your thoughts with a friend or loved one. Or journal your thoughts. You maybe surprised what you learn about your love for a song.
Improvisational Music Playing Through established nonverbal communication, improvisational music playing helps to develop creativity, express freedom, and playfulness. With or without music instruments, you make noises noting the escalation and deescalation in the improvisation correlating to feelings. Emotion is expressed through sound, rhythm, interval or even facial expression. Reviewing the music you’ve recreated with a training professional, they utilize reflecting, rhythmic grounding, dialoguing, and accompanying to provide support through your sounds.
Active Music Listening Get your tangerines out! It’s time to play some music…even if you don’t know how. This doesn’t require you to be a musician or even to have rhythm. Whether you choose to hum along, strike a triangle or cow bell or even remix a track you know, this is about your involvement. In this method, you are utilizing music to match or alter mood. It helps to express what you’re feeling and get it out.
Songwriting can provide a great deal of emotional support and process. Creating lyrics reflect your own thoughts and experiences, and orchestrating instruments and sounds to best reflect the emotion behind the lyrics.
It’s undeniable- music can validate the feelings you’re having and help change your perspective when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. If you’re interested in finding out more music therapy, check out the American Music Therapy Association.
If you think you need help with this process, consult a music therapist! Just imagine the amazing songs they can’t introduce you and your emotions to!!!
7 Songs About Addiction for Recovery Inspo
“You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” by Phantogram
“Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park
“Sober” by Pink
“The Girl You Lost to Cocaine” by Sia
“Recover” by Natasha Bedingfield
“Kevin” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Leon Bridges)
“Lover Dearest” by Marianas Trench
There are many songs out there about addiction / recovery. Are there others you’d recommend? Any you think should be added to this list?
About Laura Geftman, LCSW
Laura Geftman, LCSW is the Founder of The Calm, Cool & Collected and a practicing therapist. Beyond all things cannabis and mental health, Laura is passionate about developing greater understanding for kindness and acceptance. In her free time, Laura can be found on her yoga mat, in a kayak or singing karaoke.