For centuries, human beings have used music and art as a form of therapy, unaware of their scientifically proven therapeutic and healing abilities.
Have you ever felt like you were drowning in your problems and daily stressors but putting your headphones in seemed like it could solve all of them? As humans, we practice music therapy on a daily basis without registering that music is considered a form of therapy. Music therapy has been used as a method of healing by many ancient cultures, such as the Ottoman Empire, and roots back to almost thousands of years. Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle were some of the earliest philosophers to approach the cathartic and transformative power of music. Plato believed that music is “directed principally towards the soul”, and Aristotle spoke about it in terms of a movement that transforms our soul.
How music therapy works is very simple. Music therapy can either be done alone or in groups and in many different environments, and it can be done with or without trained therapists. It may involve listening to music, making music, singing, and discussing music, or using guided imagery alongside music. Some healing qualities of music include its ability to help ease stress and fear, improve mood, lower heart rate and blood pressure, ease muscle tension and depression, promote wellness, help to manage stress, alleviate pain, catalyze the expression of feelings, enhance memory, improve communication, among others.
Art therapy is another form of expression therapy, believed to foster healing and mental well-being. For centuries, various cultures and religions used sacred paintings and artistic symbols as an essential component of healing processes. One of the beautiful benefits of art therapy is its ability to nurture emotional processing through creative expression.
Similar to music therapy, art therapy uses the creative process to help people cultivate self-awareness, discover emotions, address unresolved emotional battles, improve social skills, and nurture self-esteem. Art therapy can also be used to treat conditions such as anxiety, depression, emotional hardship, stress and PTSD. In many studies conducted on adults who experienced trauma of various sorts, the results have demonstrated that art therapy significantly reduced trauma symptoms and decreased levels of depression. Anyone can use art therapy - you don’t have to be talented in art in order to use it. Some techniques that are used in art therapy include coloring, doodling, scribbling, drawing, finger painting, photography and sculpting.
There’s no doubt that music and art play a fundamental role in our lives, constantly nurturing our emotional well-being. If you pay close attention, you will realize that during emotional hardship, one of the first things you want to do is to listen to comforting music and scribble out your feelings on a piece of paper to “get it all out”. Our bodies are familiar with art and music therapy because without noticing it, we practice it every single day.