How Art and Music Therapy Helps You Take Charge Of Your Mental Health

Posted on December 26, 2022

man doing art therapy in a session with a therapist

Everyone can benefit from incorporating art and music into their daily lives. The arts are sources of inspiration, entertainment, relaxation, and distraction.

Art forms like painting, drawing, or sculpture are wonderful methods of creative self-expression.

Music can be a great motivator, helping people to complete their daily tasks or gym workouts. Making music is an amazing creative outlet and emotional release.

It should not come as a surprise that music and art can be integrated into mental health treatment or therapy programs. Depending on a person’s needs, art or music therapy can be used in tandem with other treatments.

Benefits of Art Therapy For Mental Health

Art therapy helps people deal with trauma and emotional conflict by creating, viewing, and discussing art. It heals through artistic expression and connection. Art therapy is a way for people to increase self-awareness and express emotions that are difficult to express verbally in a safe, non-threatening manner. Through art therapy, patients can uncover previously hidden feelings and start developing coping strategies to deal with them.

Art therapy helps people cope with anxiety, eating disorders, and psychological issues, and can also help manage severe mental health conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Therapists use art forms such as painting, drawing, photography, sketching, sculpting, or even simple doodling to help patients identify and interpret thoughts and emotions to help them through the healing process. Participants may make self-portraits as they imagine themselves at various points in their lives. They also can draw timelines, or even create free-form art about emotions. The creative process seems to reduce negative emotions and allows the person to live more “in the moment.”

Art therapy helps to restore a person’s sense of self-worth and self-confidence by boosting their self-esteem. Patients can feel proud of their creativity. It reduces overall stress and worries as it becomes an enjoyable experience for most people. People learn to connect with every moment as they create artwork, release unpleasant emotions, and discover their full artistic potential.

Art therapy can be done in one-on-one sessions or in a peer group setting.

Benefits of Music Therapy For Mental Health

Music therapy involves listening to music, playing instruments, singing, or discussing music. Like art therapy, the purpose of music therapy is to help patients understand and express their feelings.

Music is processed and generated differently than spoken language. People who have been through traumatic events often have a difficult time talking about their feelings. Bypassing the verbal channel helps patients express painful emotions more easily.

Music is powerful and can have positive effects on mental and physical health. It affects the areas of the brain involved in emotion, cognition, sensation, and movement. Music therapy is successful in treating a wide range of issues including depression, anxiety, hypertension, autism, dementia, psychiatric disorders, and substance use disorders.

Physically, music therapy can lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress and tension, improve sleep patterns, and improve motor functions. Mentally, it improves memory, focus, and concentration, and can reduce symptoms of dementia. Emotionally, it boosts motivation and mood, helps process pent-up emotions, decreases depression symptoms, and improves self-expression, stress management, and self-esteem. Socially, it enhances communication and social skills, helping to build bonds with others.

Music therapy can provide a platform for tapping into creativity and playfulness. However, everyone’s response to music is different because every person is unique in their experiences and relationship to music. Music therapists understand this and tailor therapy for the individual.

There are two primary types of music therapy. Receptive therapy involves listening to recorded or live music, guided meditations, lyric analysis, or even creating meaningful “playlists” to motivate, inspire, and reflect. Active music therapy involves playing instruments, singing, performing, and songwriting.

Individually, learning to play a new instrument increases confidence. Practicing difficult techniques helps develop strategies for dealing with frustration. Sessions involving performance can help develop relaxation skills that can be used before, during, or after stressful situations. Music therapy can help ease anxiety as it stresses improvisation — teaching that it is OK to “make things up as you go along.”

In a group setting, music therapy can foster openness in personal interactions. Patients feel a sense of accomplishment as new instruments, songs, or techniques are learned together. Teamwork and mutual support are stressed. Patients are encouraged to perform solo or as a group, building self-confidence and a sense of belonging.

Taking Charge Of Your Mental Health

Music and art therapy support the creativity, independence, and freedom of patients. The self-assurance they develop helps overcome some of their active symptoms and gives them the confidence to complete their recovery programs. When art and music therapy techniques are used in group settings, nothing is rushed and nothing is graded. The atmosphere is relaxing and fun.

Everyone from children to the elderly can benefit from art or music therapy. They open avenues for healing and expression that are not available in other forms of therapy. The connection between these creative therapies and mental health is undeniable.

Rising Phoenix Wellness Services is a licensed mental health and substance use disorder Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in Scottsdale, Arizona. We created our addiction and mental health treatment program to offer a safe, welcoming, and nurturing environment where clients are embraced, not judged, throughout their recovery process.

We offer programming that is based on Integrity, Innovation, Confident Humility, and Mindful Leadership. Our Mission is to help people recognize the unique value of their life and improve their overall health and wellness.

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