Music Matters

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listening-headphonesEveryone knows that music is relevant to mood.  In fact, a previous All the Rage post explored the role of music in inducing anger, with unexpected results. Recent research by Hakvoort, Bogaerts, Thaut, and Spreen (2015) showed that music therapy can actually accelerate the process of behavioral and emotional change.  More specifically, their findings suggested that music therapy, define as “the use of musical intervention grounded in cognitive-behavioral therapy,” had more positive coping skills, were more likely to ask for help, and more likely to accept situations as they are.

These participants also better demonstrated the emotional management skills necessary to be successful in real life angering situations, even preventing violent outbreaks as compared to a control group.  Not only was music therapy shown to improve anger coping strategies, it also increased the patients ability to cope with other areas of their lives.  Finally, the authors argue that one way in which music is valuable is that there is evidence that it stimulates the release of endorphins, which are key chemicals to improving mood.

The authors identify four stages to the music therapy method.  In the first stage, patients make and listen to different types of music.  Next, patients are taught different techniques to reduce tension and are educated regarding the phases of anger.  Third, patients are made aware of the specific situations that illicit anger or aggression.  Finally, patients are coached to apply their personalized coping skills to manage their anger without the assistance of the therapist.

By Chelsea Giles
Chelsea is a senior planning to graduate in May of 2016 with a major in Psychology and minors in Human Development and Spanish. She plans to attend graduate school to earn her Ph.D in Counseling Psychology.