Music in Recovery — Does Musical Treatment Actually Work?

Music in Recovery—Does Musical Treatment Actually Work?

People recovering from illnesses or injuries, or those dealing with emotional or psychological issues, often feel overwhelmed and struggle to find effective ways to heal and improve their well-being. Does music in recovery help? Let’s learn more.

Traditional treatment methods may not cover all areas of recovery, which can leave individuals discouraged and stuck in the healing process.

Music therapy is a powerful and effective form of treatment that uses music to address individuals’ physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. It has been scientifically proven to improve communication, relieve stress, and promote physical rehabilitation.

In this article, we’ll go through the world of musical treatment for recovery, providing information on how music therapy can help, the best type of music for treatment, the necessary equipment required, and the psychological effects of music on recovery.

You’ll learn how music therapy can complement treatments to help holistically improve your well-being.


What Are Musical Treatments?

What Are Musical Treatments?

Musical treatments, also called audio therapy, use music to meet a person’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs. It is based on the notion that music helps improve interpersonal relationships, lessens stress, and supports physical recovery.

Ancient Egyptian medical texts from 1500 BCE discuss the benefits of music for the human body. The use of music for therapeutic purposes was included in medical traditions from the Greco-Roman, Arabian, Indian, and Chinese cultures. Biblical and mythological sources also reference music therapy in stories and passages.

Greek philosophers Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato are recognized as some of the first individuals to identify and use the therapeutic value of music. Pythagoras thought that music and mathematics were related and could both convey deeper ideas. 

During the 20th century, there was an increase in interest in music therapy, leading to multiple music therapy associations. These associations are recognized for their contributions to the discipline by providing early music therapy publications, books, and classes.

Musical treatment began to be more widely used and accepted during World War I and World War II. Musicians provided their services to traumatized, ill, or injured soldiers.

The patients’ acute and significant physical and emotional reactions to the music encouraged the medical doctors to continue asking musicians to perform in hospitals.

Today, music therapy is used in different venues, including hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, schools, nursing homes, and mental health clinics. There are several different types of audio therapy, each with its own unique approach and focus. 

  • Receptive music therapy: The music therapist manipulates the qualities of the music that a client or patient receives passively to work toward a desired goal. It can address different emotional, cognitive, and physical conditions—like anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Bibliotherapy: This is a therapeutic strategy that supports a patient’s mental health by using books and other literary works. The therapist offers literature to teach coping skills and provide a safe and lighter way to discuss sensitive issues.
  • Creative visualization: This mental practice uses positive thinking and imagination to picture and manifest specific goals. It is usually used in personal development and goal setting to help an individual make a clear image of what they want to achieve. It applies to different areas, including career, health, and relationships.
  • Guided imagery: This involves concentrated relaxation, which aims to calm the mind by focusing on a specific item, sound, or experience. It is the method of directing the imagination to create mental images that can influence feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

People with different conditions, such as mental health issues, developmental impairments, physical wounds, and chronic illnesses, can benefit from musical treatment. It can help people suffering from the stress and emotions brought on by disease, trauma, and sorrow. 

Is It Better to Create Music or Listen to Music in Recovery?

Is It Better to Create Music or Listen to Music in Recovery?

For people in recovery, learning an instrument and listening to music can be helpful. Both can be effective tools for developing physical, mental, and emotional health.

Playing an instrument allows individuals to express themselves artistically through playing. It enables them to direct their feelings and is a valuable aid for people dealing with emotional or psychological challenges. Additionally, learning an instrument can enhance one’s mental health in general, as well as cognitive and fine motor abilities.

On the other hand, listening to music can be a more passive method to interact with music, bringing a feeling of ease and relaxation. It has been proven to be successful in lowering stress, anxiety, and depression. It also has the potential to improve the quality of sleep.

What Is the Best Type of Music for Audio Therapy?

What Is the Best Type of Music for Audio Therapy?

Different musical styles can be beneficial for different goals. Calming music, such as classical, ambient, or natural sounds, can reduce stress and anxiety.

Slower tempos, straightforward melodies, harmonic structures, and a generally calming ambiance are common characteristics of this kind of music, which can aid in fostering a sense of peace and calmness.

White noise or slow, calming music—like lullabies—can help you sleep better. These kinds of music usually include a repetitive beat, calming melodies, and straightforward harmonies that can help calm the mind. 

Instrumental music, including jazz, classical, and some electronic genres, can improve concentration and boost output. These songs often have intricate melodies and harmonies that keep the listener interested and concentrated.

Moreover, birds, the ocean, rainfall sounds, and other nature and meditation sounds are best for unwinding and meditating. They are often associated with a sense of calm and tranquility and can be used to create a peaceful environment.

Solfeggio Frequencies for Healing and Recovery

Listening to music with specific frequencies, such as 432 Hz, 528 Hz, and 174 Hz, which are in harmony with the universe’s inherent vibrations, is also beneficial for one’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Listening to music tuned at 432 Hz can have a relaxing and grounding effect. 528 Hz, also called the “love frequency,” is thought to have a healing impact on the body and soul and helps in DNA repair. In addition, 174 Hz, referred to as the “healing frequency,” is thought to have the biggest effect on physical well-being. It can relieve pain while also lowering tension. 

The impact of music on the body and mind is complex. It depends on different factors, such as the listener’s personal preferences and specific needs, and the other elements of the music, such as the melody, tone, harmony, and rhythm.

What Types of Issues Can Audio Therapy Help With?

What Types of Issues Can Audio Therapy Help With?

Audio therapy can help with many different issues that people struggle with. Below, we’ve listed a few of the more common issues.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A stressful incident, like a battle in the military, sexual assault, or a natural disaster, can cause PTSD. Some of the signs of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, avoiding triggers, emotions of guilt and humiliation, and rage.

Audio therapy can help with PTSD by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Calming music, soothing nature sounds, and guided meditations lessen the emotions of anxiety and tension that frequently come with PTSD. Guided meditations instill a sense of serenity and may also help to enhance sleep quality.

Exposure therapy is another way that audio therapy can help treat PTSD. It allows individuals to confront and process their trauma. It entails exposing people to the traumatic incident in a safe and controlled atmosphere to assist them in processing and overcoming their fear.

Substance Addiction

Addiction to substances is characterized by obsessive drug usage despite its negative drawbacks. People addicted to drugs may experience psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms and struggle to manage their drug use.

Audio therapy can help with substance addiction by providing positive reinforcement for healthy behavior. For example, listening to uplifting music or guided meditations can help build positive associations with healthy behavior, which can be a powerful motivator for those struggling with addiction.

Additionally, audio therapy can be used to help individuals with substance addiction cope with triggers. These are situations that can cause an individual to crave drugs. 

Sleeping Problems

Sleep is an essential aspect of overall health and well-being. Poor sleep quality can lead to physical and mental health problems, like fatigue, irritability, and an increased risk of chronic health conditions. 

Calming music and nature sounds help fight the emotions of anxiety and stress that often hinder sleep. Audio therapy can improve sleep quality by regulating the body’s normal sleep-wake cycle.

Audio therapy also provides background noise that helps mask external disturbances like traffic or household noise. It is helpful for individuals who have trouble falling asleep due to noise sensitivity.

Additionally, guided meditations, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, and other relaxation practices help individuals with insomnia relax and reduce their stress levels, making it easier for them to fall (and stay) asleep.

Pain Management

Injuries, chronic health conditions, and emotional stress can cause pain. Musical therapy can help to counteract anxiety and tension that can aggravate pain.

It can also help to regulate the body’s natural pain response, making it easier to manage pain. Also, guided meditations and other relaxation methods can help individuals with chronic pain relax and reduce their stress levels.

Remember that audio therapy shouldn’t be a replacement for professional medical care. It’s always best to consult a doctor before employing any therapy to treat particular problems. 

Do You Need Any Special Equipment for Music in Recovery?

Do You Need Any Special Equipment for Music in Recovery?

Music therapy is best performed with the guidance of a trained therapist who uses specialized techniques and tools to facilitate the therapy program. These tools may include musical instruments, like a guitar or piano. 

Some forms of music therapy incorporate imagery, wherein the therapist guides the client to visualize a peaceful setting while accompanying the visualization with calming music to create a soothing atmosphere.

It works best with high-quality speakers or headphones as they provide a clear and rich sound experience that is important for creating an immersive and relaxing environment.

For those who are not knowledgeable and don’t have the resources for music therapy, it is best to go to audio therapy clinics as they have trained professionals with the expertise and resources to conduct therapy sessions effectively.

They have access to specialized tools and equipment that are crucial for producing a setting that promotes healing. They will also be able to advise you and provide a customized treatment plan to help you achieve your goals.

Effect of Music on a Psychological Level

Effect of Music on a Psychological Level

Music has a lot of positive effects on psychological well-being. Some of these include:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety: Music helps lower the body’s stress response and cortisol levels, lessening stress and anxiety.
  • Improving mood and emotional control: Music has a strong effect on our emotions, often triggering feelings of joy, nostalgia, or despair. It creates grounding effects that help to soothe and improve movement during stressful times.
  • Enhancing cognitive performance: Music boosts cognitive functions like memory and attention. It also improves concentration and focus and helps with faster learning and memorization.
  • Increasing confidence: Music boosts self-esteem and confidence by providing an outlet for self-expression and creativity. It also helps build social connections, which benefits mental health.
  • Improving sleep quality: Music helps enhance sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing insomnia symptoms.

On the other hand, music can also have negative effects on psychological well-being, such as:

  • Triggering negative emotions: Music can be a powerful trigger for negative emotions or memories and may remind a person of a traumatic event or difficult time in their life.
  • Distracting: Music can be distracting and may make it difficult to focus on important tasks or to be productive.
  • Increasing agitation: Some people may find certain types of music to be agitating, and this may sometimes result in feelings of anxiety or stress.


Music can influence our psychological well-being greatly. Music therapy can be a helpful tool for rehabilitation, addressing issues like substance addiction, developmental disability, PTSD, stress, or sleep problems. It can enhance general well-being in several ways, from lowering stress and anxiety to improving mood and cognitive function.

You can explore the powerful therapeutic effects of music and learn how to use it for self-care and healing under the direction of a licensed music therapist.

It can be tailored to the specific needs and goals of the individual and is an excellent complement to traditional treatment methods. 

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