What is music therapy?

Few people would claim that they had never been affected emotionally by music.

Music is a powerful emotional medium which can affect people deeply. More than any other medium, music seems to connect with deep emotions, sometimes melancholy and sad, sometimes angry, sometimes exuberant, joyous and life affirming. Moreover, this intense emotional response to music seems to be unimpaired by illness or disability. Through improvised music, the therapist aims to tune into and support whatever the client needs to express. The therapist may also encourage clients to explore connections between the music they create and thoughts or events in their lives. The therapist aims to translate the client’s psychological processes into expressive music-making which can reveal, release and heal. And importantly, as it is unburdened by the need for words, music therapy can be particularly effective in helping clients who have no speech, or who lack the ability to talk about their emotions. Music therapy can help to

  • identify, connect with and express feelings
  • build self-confidence
  • develop social and communication skills
  • enhance self-awareness
  • recognise and manage any unhelpful behaviours or thoughts


How do music therapists work?

Therapists work with either individuals or groups in a variety of settings and adjust the sessions according to the needs of each client. It is not at all necessary for clients to have had any musical training – indeed, a few have been heard to say that it has been their first-ever experience of live music making.

Who can benefit from music therapy?

Music therapy can be effective for adults and children with:

  • learning disabilities
  • mental health problems
  • physical difficulties
  • bereavement issues
  • eating disorders
  • challenging behaviour
  • autistic spectrum disorders
  • dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • emotional problems
  • life-threatening and life-limiting diseases
  • problems related to abuse
  • attachment issues
  • family and adoption problems
  • multiple sclerosis
  • post-traumatic stress disorder