brown wooden percussion instruments

Music Therapy: A therapeutic tool for survivors

A really cathartic way of expressing feelings and relieving stress is through music therapy. Music therapy uses techniques such as listening to and creating music as well as self-reflection in order to improve one’s health and well-being. It is based on the results of research studies and clinical reviews. Goals of music therapy depend on the needs of the individual as well as the setting where the music therapy is taking place. When we immerse ourselves in music, we are allowed to express ourselves more easily and freely. Similarly, we can also use music to process difficult experiences and calm our anxieties. Moreover, music has the potential to play a pivotal role in emotional release.

The practice of music therapy can help survivors who experience anxiety, depression, and trauma to express underlying sources of pain. Musical experiences such as creating music, singing, and listening to old songs, can open a window to emotional awareness and expression. While passively listening to music can be cleansing, musical therapy is the most effective when you are actively engaged with the music.

Here are some common examples of musical therapy activities:

  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Singing old songs
  • Learning music
  • Improvising on music pieces
  • Drumming
  • Dancing
  • Reflective Interventions
  • Lyric discussion
    • Using lyrics to identify intense feelings with either a music therapist or a group 
  • Musical imagery
    • Having a therapist play music while you talk about whatever comes to you while you listen.
  • Writing lyrics for existing music

Moreover, music therapy has a multitude of benefits such as:

  • Improved communication skills
  • Resolving issues
  • Pain management
  • Improved social function
  • Motivation to get better

The beauty of music therapy is if you do not have access to a music therapist, it can still be practiced. Improvising and practicing music therapy on your own can be an enriching and rewarding experience. 


Ms. Mykaiya is a dual enrolled college freshman at Oakland Early College. She is working on two degrees at OCC, one in science with an emphasis on biology and one in Art with an emphasis on Art history. In her spare time she works as an SI at school and likes to design clothes.