“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach
For most people, music is an important part of daily life. Maybe you rely on Beyoncé to get you through a long daily commute or the Beatles to keep you company while making dinner. Music has a significant impact on our moods, too. A certain song can make us feel happy, sad, peppy, or relaxed. Because music can have such an influence on our mindset and well-being, it should come as no surprise that music therapy is often used for managing numerous medical conditions, including eating disorders.
The use of music therapy continues to grow across clinical settings. Did you know that music therapy has been around since the 1800s? It offers a safe, productive, and highly effective way to express yourself and connect with others. Music therapy can promote wellness, manage stress, and regulate emotions, in addition to improving self-awareness and self-esteem. Best of all, you don’t have to own an instrument or have a musical background to reap its many benefits.
Why is music therapy valuable for eating disorders treatment? When eating becomes disordered, it can have a major physical, emotional, and cognitive impact. It often results in isolation and difficult internal and external relationships. Music has unique qualities that can affect brain activity and help develop new avenues to regulate our bodies and minds, including emotional expression. In essence, favorite music is used in various ways to create possibilities for healthy changes.
What separates music therapy from music listening? Music listening that makes you feel good is therapeutic because it enhances or validates your current mood. It’s not music therapy as much as it is a coping skill to achieve your own personal goals. In contrast, music therapy is goal-driven. The role of music therapy within a multi-disciplinary treatment program is to complement and enhance the clinical work being done in individual, group and family therapy. There isn’t one type of music that is more therapeutic or useful than the rest; it all comes down to musical preference. Music therapy interventions used in the treatment of eating disorders include lyric analysis, music making, clinical improvisation, music-assisted relaxation, and group singing, among others.
Find the music that inspires you. What songs draw your attention away from negative self-talk and anxiety, and toward the emotions you want to experience? These tunes can be a valuable part of your personal music therapy experience. To learn more about music therapy and how it can help you, please reach out to us. We’re here to help.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Founder, Executive Director at The Body Image Therapy Center. For help call 877-674-2843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.