Music Therapy for Anxiety: How Music Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Music therapy has been around as a form of therapy since the 1940s, but in recent years its popularity and effectiveness in treating various mental and physical health problems has grown. From Alzheimer’s disease to children’s autism, people are increasingly turning to music to help reduce symptoms like stress and anxiety. But, with this sudden increase in interest, there has been a lot of debate about whether music therapy really does offer any benefits beyond temporary pleasure. So, if you’ve been thinking about music therapy for your own stress or anxiety, here’s what you need to know about how music can help reduce stress and anxiety.

Throughout this post, we’ll explore how music can be used therapeutically to help counteract the effects of stress and anxiety. This will include a look at the different types of music therapy and the potential psychological and physiological benefits that come with it. We’ll then consider the risk factors and potential side effects to look out for, followed by a few tips on choosing the best music for your own therapeutic needs. Finally, we’ll dive into some of the leading music therapy producers to help you get started with your own stress and anxiety reduction effort. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Quick Explanation of Key Points

Music therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of anxiety. Listening to and creating music has been shown to help reduce stress, improve mood, and increase calming chemical reactions in the brain.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a form of psychotherapy using sound and music that has been proven to help people with mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety. Music therapy can be used in combination with other forms of therapy to help individuals gain insight into their feelings and emotions, develop more effective coping skills, and improve overall mental health. It is a non-invasive approach that involves listening to specific pieces of music, playing instruments or improvising music with the help of a trained therapist who acts as a guide and mentor.

Some experts argue that music therapy has the power to reach deep levels of relaxation and can assist in reducing general levels of stress and tension. Music also helps spark creativity and encourages participants to express themselves in an emotionally safe environment without judgement from others. This type of psychological release allows individuals to better understand their feelings and emotions, providing them with an avenue for creative expression.

The effectiveness of music therapy for treating anxiety is still debated within the medical community. Some studies suggest musical interventions are beneficial for treating anxiety, while others point out that the results may not be conclusive enough for doctors to make recommendations about its use as a treatment option for their patients. The debate over whether or not music therapy should be considered a legitimate treatment option will likely continue until more research is conducted.

By leaning into music as an avenue towards healing, this soothing practice is slowly gaining recognition by clinics and hospitals around the world. Understanding its potential benefits and limitations can help shed light on what direction is right for each individual situation when it comes to dealing with anxiety and stress. With that said, let’s explore the benefits of music therapy for anxiety next.

Benefits of Music Therapy for Anxiety

Music therapy has been seen to be an effective treatment for those who struggle with anxiety or are looking to manage their stress. Studies have shown that music is capable of influencing and changing moods, which can be used to help improve the symptoms of anxiety. Using music to reduce stress and anxiety helps individuals relax and find comfort in their struggles. When we use music as a form of therapy, it also helps us gain a better understanding of our emotions, what triggers them, and how we can rebound from difficult situations.

Researchers have found that different types of music can give us a sense of calmness, leading to improved mental and physical health. People often report feeling relaxed after listening to soothing and calming songs, indicating that music is capable of providing the same kind of calming effects when it comes to managing anxiety. For example, studies show that slow-tempo music with light instruments like strings or flutes can reduce cortisol levels associated with stress and increase dopamine levels associated with pleasure. Listening to these types of calming and peaceful melodies can help an individual reduce their level of anxiety by providing moments of relaxation and respite from a stressful situation.

On the other hand, some suggest that supportive psychotherapy should be the focus rather than relying solely on music therapy as the sole form of treatment for anxiety disorders. While researchers agree that music therapy is beneficial in treating anxiety disorders, they state that it should be used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches like psychotherapy in order to achieve maximum results. While one may not experience negative side effects when using music therapy, we must remember that this is not always the case with all forms of treatment. Therefore, desiring professional advice is recommended before attempting any method of managing stress or reducing anxiety levels.

In conclusion, while there are multiple benefits associated with using music as a way to reduce stress and anxiety levels, research suggests that professional advice should be taken into account before turning only to music therapy as the primary form of treatment for anxious states. With its calming properties and ability to impact moods positively, learning more about the potential benefits of music therapy could provide relief for those struggling with managing their stress or confronting anxious states head-on.. Moving forward, this discussion will examine the calming effects of music in detail and how it might be used to deal with stress and anxiety.

Calming Effects of Music

The calming effects of music are widely documented. It’s not just anecdotal evidence that music can help with stress and anxiety, as numerous studies demonstrate a connection between listening to music and its positive outcomes. Research has found that music can be effective in reducing both physical and emotional tension. Participants who listened to calming or neutral music reported lower levels of anxiety than those who heard no music at all. Music therapy can also improve the ability to cope with stressful environments.

Music has been found to reduce physiological responses associated with fear, such as an increased heart rate, drawing attention away from stressful stimuli. This is enabled by psychological factors such as distraction—music can distract from a person’s anxious thoughts and feelings, allowing them to create distance from the source of their distress. The distraction-reducing benefits of listening to calming music have been repeatedly shown in clinical studies, particularly among individuals in hospital settings where anxiety levels are higher than average.

In some cases however, the opposite effect is true: individuals may find certain types of music distressing due to associated memories or empathy with lyrics. In this case, it is important for therapists to determine what type of music will work best for their patients before making any recommendations—a distressed individual might actually benefit more from upbeat jazzy tunes than calm ones.

Overall, the research shows that music can be an effective tool for managing stress and anxiety levels in many different contexts. Although there are potential drawbacks depending on the characteristics of the individual, understanding how music can affect emotions is essential when developing a therapeutic plan for managing stress and anxiety. The next section examines how Positive Mood and Relaxation are related to music therapy for anxiety sufferers.

  • A 2019 systematic review found that music interventions were helpful in reducing anxiety levels, with the greatest evidence in adults undergoing cancer treatment.
  • According to an article published in the Therapy Today journal in 2020, research has found that music therapy can reduce stress hormones, heart rate and respiration rate.
  • A study published in 2019 found that listening to relaxing classical music before bedtime leads to a significant decrease of self-reported stress and anxiety.

Positive Mood and Relaxation

Music therapy has long been linked to improved mood and relaxation. This is because when a person hears music they enjoy, it triggers the release of dopamine in their brains. This can give them a feeling of pleasure as well as help to put them in a more relaxed state. Research suggests that playing music with a relaxing or calming tempo can be beneficial for people suffering from stress and anxiety, as it helps to slow down breathing and reduce muscle tension. Listening to instrumental music can also help to reduce the levels of cortisol – the body’s stress hormone – in the bloodstream.

On the other hand, some believe that listening to certain types of music may actually worsen anxiety symptoms. It is important to listen only to music that is calming and positive, as playing loud or aggressive music can increase feelings of stress and anxiousness. Likewise, individuals should practice caution if engaging in excessively loud or lengthy activities that involve listening to music, as this can potentially lead to heightened emotions related to stress or anxiety over time.

Given both sides of the argument, there is little doubt that finding enjoyable music with calming tempos can provide significant relief from anxiety and help those struggling with stress create a more positive mood and relaxed frame of mind. With this in mind, the following section will discuss different types of music therapy techniques an individual can use to manage their stress and anxiety.

Different Music Therapy Techniques

Different music therapy techniques are used to provide treatment for different situations and cases when it comes to anxiety. For example, one technique which is often used is songwriting. Through songwriting, patients are encouraged to express their emotions, thoughts and ideas in a constructive way which can lead to positive outcomes such as improved moods, increased self-confidence or improved relationships with others. Additionally, improvisational music therapy can be useful for decreasing physical and emotional stress since it allows patients to use the music to explore any feelings or tensions that may be present in an environment where there is no verbal conversation. This type of therapy also allows for new skills to be developed as participants learn how to create meaningful sounds through instruments.

On the other hand, some argue that these types of music therapy techniques don’t necessarily provide long-term relief from anxiety due to their limited duration and lack of structure. It can be difficult to ensure that patients have internalized whatever they learned during the session if they experience only a small amount of time in the therapeutic environment. Furthermore, without the guidance of a trained therapist, there could be risks associated with individuals participating in these activities on their own.

Despite the debate around how effective different music therapy techniques are for treating anxiety disorders, many studies have shown that it can provide positive results regardless of whether the approach is structured or unstructured. This ultimately suggests the importance of understanding individual needs in order to understand which approaches will work best within each case and situation. With this crossroads in mind, we move forward into looking at one-on-one sessions and how they more directly connect therapists with clients in music-based interventions. In the next section, we’ll discuss the benefits of one-on-one music sessions between therapists and clients when it comes to effectively reducing anxiety and stress levels.

Essential Points

Music therapy techniques, such as songwriting and improvisational music, are thought to help reduce stress and improve moods for those with anxiety. However, there is debate about how effective these treatments are in the long-term. Studies suggest that individual needs need to be taken into consideration when choosing an appropriate type of therapy. One-on-one sessions between therapists and clients can also be beneficial in reducing anxiety and stress levels.

One-on-one Music Sessions

One-on-one Music Sessions are gaining popularity as a therapeutic treatment tool both at home and in healthcare facilities. In one-on-one sessions, a trained music therapist works with an individual to create and explore connections between their own emotional and physical responses to various musical elements such as rhythm, pitch or melody. This type of therapy can provide an effective outlet for individuals to externally express feelings they may be keeping hidden deep inside, helping them to deal with anxiety more effectively.

The benefits of one-on-one music therapy can vary widely depending on the patient. Some report increased levels of relaxation and emotional centering, while others see improvements in communication skills, mood regulation and the general ability to better cope with difficult life situations. Proponents of one-on-one music therapy often argue that this kind of personalized environment can be more effective than group settings due to its intimate nature, allowing participants to have a more meaningful interaction with their therapist.

On the other hand, some suggest that because individual sessions can be time consuming and expensive, there may not be enough time or funding available for multiple sessions for each patient. Additionally, one-on-one music therapy may exclude certain individuals who are unable to afford it or lack access to a qualified practitioner.

In conclusion, one-on-one music therapy has the potential to provide patients with a unique opportunity to open up and process their emotions in a safe environment and can prove beneficial when treated over multiple sessions. Moving forward, the next section will discuss how Group Music Therapy provides an alternative setting and approach for those looking to reduce anxiety through music.

Group Music Therapy

Group music therapy can provide an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. The interaction that comes with a group setting helps individuals form meaningful connections, build trust with other participants, and gains access to a different form of support than that of an individual session alone. It allows musical expression for people who feel isolated or lack socialization as a result of their anxiety. Group music therapy is here to provide a safe space for individuals to come together and practice therapeutic principles by creating a bond of collaboration rather than competition. The collective act of playing music has the power to uplift moods, foster communication skills, stimulate laughter, provide relaxation, and create bonds between participants.

On the other hand, group music therapy does not work well in every situation. Many people affected by anxiety may have difficulty socializing in more traditional group settings and might be overwhelmed by communicative pressures in those situations. This can lead to increased stress levels which are counterproductive to the therapy process. Furthermore, because some people may feel vulnerable being around strangers or find themselves embarrassed by their lack of musical training or experience, they may not choose this type of intervention as their first step towards managing anxiety symptoms.

In spite of these considerations, group music therapy can serve as a powerful form of psychotherapy if it is applied correctly in order to meet each individual’s specific needs. Through the development of interpersonal relationships with those who are trained in music therapy techniques, participants can collaborate while overcoming stress and inspiring self-expression through the power of sound. Moving forward, the next section will discuss how music therapists use specialized instruments to help tackle stress and anxiety in people’s lives.

Music Therapy Instruments

The use of various instruments in music therapy is important to creating an individualized approach tailored to an individual’s needs and preferences. Music therapists typically utilize traditional instruments, such as the piano and guitar, in clinic settings. However, they may also employ a variety of non-traditional instruments such as singing bowls, drums and percussion instruments, handpans, and custom synthesizers, all of which can be effective for reducing stress and anxiety.

The potential benefits of using different instruments varies depending on the person and their particular set of therapeutic needs. For instance, certain rhythmic instruments, such as drums or handpans, are known to evoke feelings of calmness through their soothing tones and can create feelings of relaxation in individuals prone to high levels of stress or anxiety.

On the other hand, percussion instruments such as cymbals have been shown to have stimulating effects due to their bright tones and sharp sounds. This type of instrumentation could potentially help energize individuals with low energy levels caused by chronic depression or other mental health issues.

Instruments can also be used to express emotions when speech is difficult or unavailable. Singing silverware or shaking jingle bells are just two examples of how music therapists might make use of everyday objects to express themselves musically. Regardless of the instrumentation being used, it’s important that the therapist remain open-minded in order to adapt to the patient’s preferences in terms of mood and sound.

Music therapists often recognize that some form of noise-making activity is beneficial for reducing stress and tension. Therefore, it’s important for them to use a variety of music therapy instruments during treatment sessions in order to reach a desired outcome. With proper guidance from a trained music therapist, utilizing musical instrumentation can provide calming auditory experiences that lead to successful therapeutic outcomes.

Moving forward towards our next section about “Considerations When Using Music Therapy,” we’ll discuss keypoints music therapists should take into account before designing a program for each individual patient.

Considerations When Using Music Therapy

Using music therapy as a tool to reduce and manage stress and anxiety can be incredibly beneficial, however it is important to consider the rules and regulations set by healthcare professionals, as well as knowing when music therapy may not be suitable for a person’s unique needs. As with any form of medical treatment, there are certain precautions one should take when considering the use of music therapy such as consulting with a healthcare professional first.

It is also important to think about whether the type and frequency of music being used could have a negative effect on someone’s mental health. Tempo, lyrics and even genre can all play a part in how we respond either positively or negatively to music. For example, if someone with anxiety were to listen to faster-paced music or heavy metal genres, they may find themselves feeling more anxious than relaxed.

Sometimes music therapy may not be suitable for particular mental health issues. If someone is suffering from extreme levels of depression or suicidal thoughts, this could be unsafe for them. Music therapy focuses more on coping mechanisms rather than cures, so it only has the potential for a limited impact for an individual when dealing with significant mental health issues.

The final point to note is that using music therapy as a sole form of treatment for mental health concerns may not yield the desired results. In most cases, both talk-therapy and other forms of relaxation methods are recommended in conjunction with music therapy for more effective management of conditions such as anxiety and depression.

In conclusion, while using music therapy can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, it is important to consider the potential risks associated with its usage, along with the need for further forms of treatment in order to maximize its efficacy. The next section will discuss the conclusions reached from this topic regarding the positive impacts of Music Therapy for Anxiety.


As mentioned throughout this article, music therapy has been widely used in the treatment of anxiety. Research has demonstrated that talking combined with music can promote a more natural and healthy state of wellbeing, both emotionally and physically. Music can be beneficial to those who frequently experience stress-related psychological symptoms, such as hypervigilance or space confusion. Moreover, music helps people develop a better sense of self-awareness and acceptance, leading to a greater understanding of their mental wellbeing.

Overall, music therapy for anxiety can be effective for anyone looking for an alternative form of treatment for their disorder, since it helps patients relax, gain insight into their emotional states, and open up communication pathways. By using different genres and instruments, it creates an environment where one can explore and express their thoughts in an enjoyable way. The use of music allows individuals to develop an improved relationship with themselves and others by building trust and emotional connections.


It is also important to note that music therapy may not be suitable for everyone suffering from anxiety. While research has shown that it is a valuable tool to employ in reducing stress and relieving anxiety symptoms, it will not be able to cure the underlying cause(s) of the disorder in some cases. Additionally, those with pre-existing medical conditions should always consult with a healthcare professional before engaging in any form of treatment plan involving music as a component. As with traditional forms of therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), results may vary due to personal preference or cultural influences; what works for one person might not necessarily work for another. Therefore, individuals should be encouraged to pursue any form of mental health treatment that they feel comfortable with—including those which incorporate music if desired—in order to achieve the most effective outcomes from their care plan.

Answers to Common Questions

Are there any restrictions or side effects associated with using music therapy to manage anxiety?

Yes, there are certain restrictions and side effects associated with music therapy for anxiety. For example, some people may find that listening to certain types of music or genres can further increase their anxiety levels or cause them to feel overwhelmed. Additionally, activities like singing or playing an instrument may be difficult for those who do not experience a reduction in stress levels while engaging with music. Similarly, the amount of time spent using music therapy as an intervention should be managed carefully; too much exposure can lead to feelings of burnout and fatigue. Finally, it is important to note that music does not substitute professional psychological care and should never be used as a replacement for medical advice or treatment.

What evidence exists to support the effectiveness of music therapy in treating anxiety?

There is a growing body of evidence that music therapy can be effective in reducing anxiety and stress. One study in the Journal of Music Therapy demonstrated that self-selected music listening was associated with a decrease in both State and Trait Anxiety levels in patients suffering from anxiety. Another study, published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, found that group music therapy significantly reduced symptoms of panic disorder, as well as improving physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

In addition to these studies, there are numerous anecdotal accounts of people using music to help manage their anxiety. For example, some people have reported positive effects from engaging in activities like playing an instrument or singing, or just listening to calming music. Listening to familiar songs or ones with positive messages can help to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce muscle tension and improve mood.

Overall, while more research is needed to determine its effectiveness as an evidence-based treatment for anxiety, there is encouraging evidence that suggests music therapy may be beneficial for those suffering with anxiety.

What are the different types of music therapy and how do they help with anxiety?

There are several different types of music therapy that can help with anxiety, including relaxation-based music therapy, reminiscence-based music therapy, active music therapy, and improvisation-based music therapy.

Relaxation-based music therapy is designed to help the patient relax through music and guided imagery. It typically involves the patient listening to soothing music while being instructed to gradually calm their body and mind by focusing on the relaxing rhythms, tones, and sounds. It can also involve exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing.

Reminiscence-based music therapy uses familiar songs from the client’s past to allow them to reconnect with fond memories, leading to improved emotional balance and well-being. This type of music therapy is especially useful for reducing depression and anxiety because it triggers personal memories that can evoke pleasant emotions, while also helping the patient practice expressing themselves in a safe environment.

Active music therapy encourages self-expression through a variety of musical activities such as singing, playing instruments or moving to the beat of music. Performing active tasks during sessions can provide an individual with a quick outlet for feelings of anger or frustration and can increase self-esteem.

Finally, improvisation-based music therapy focuses on creative expression through musical improvisations initiated by either the therapist or client. This type of music therapy is effective in improving communication and understanding between two individuals as it gives both parties an opportunity to explore their feelings without judgment. It can also be used to help build trust with someone who has been recently diagnosed with anxiety due to its freeform nature.

Overall, all types of music therapy can be beneficial for managing levels of stress and anxiety, although some may be more suitable than others depending on the individual and their situation. As such, it is important to seek advice from a qualified professional when considering which form of music therapy might best suit you before seeking treatment.

Next: The Role of Sound in Mental Health