Music Therapy vs Talk Therapy

Everyone who has ever been in therapy knows that moment all too well... the moment when words aren't enough. 

There's something inside of you that you need to get out, but there just aren't words to capture its essence.  Don't worry.  It's natural and not at all your fault.  Overwhelming feelings or past/present trauma aren't things that lend themselves to speech.  In fact, according to best science we know about how trauma and overwhelm work, they literally live apart from the parts of our brain responsible for speech. Music therapists have known this for quite some time, but it's always good when your gut is backed up by scientific consensus.

These are the moments where music therapy excels. Music helps us explore the unsaid in a safe and illuminating way. Anyone who has experienced music therapy can relate to this moment of insight or awakening during musical exploration, whether that's improvisation, moving to music or art-making while listening. For some people, it's the moment of seeing a familiar pattern play out in their music that can then be worked through both words and music. For others, it's the cathartic experience of "playing it out." There are countless ways we can deepen our understanding of who we are and what's holding us back through music making.

Music can also provide a bit of respite from the "tyranny" of words. Sometimes we know exactly what we want to say, but either aren't ready or are simply tired of verbalizing things. In these moments, music can be intensely freeing, while moving us closer to accomplishing the goals of therapy. Sometimes therapy can get stuck in endless loops of talking through every aspect of an issue or feeling while music therapy offers many ways to get unstuck. Similarly, therapy can get stuck when you don't want to say something aloud, but music therapy keeps working. Music therapy can also insulate you from some of the potential for getting overwhelmed by moving out of the concrete/verbal and into the symbolic/sound realm.

A large part of music therapy's power lies in its deep physicality. Music making, listening and movement engage your whole self, rather than just your intellect. At the most basic level, you can feel the music vibrate your body, which creates a powerful emotional feedback loop which can help deepen awareness, engagement and insight. Actively making music or moving to music is an even more engaged process that engages even more of your senses and creates even more powerful feedback loops and opportunities for cathartic release.

In short, music therapy provides the benefits of talk therapy since it incorporates talk therapy, while also providing powerful ways of moving you towards your goals without words. Let's find out what music therapy can do for you.