Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological condition that results from long-lasting symptoms associated with a traumatic event. These symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, flashbacks, intrusive and unwanted thoughts, paranoia, night terrors or other problems with sleep, physical pain, nausea, shaking, or sweating, emotional numbing, and avoidance of possible triggers. Untreated PTSD can make daily functioning difficult or impossible for those affected by it. While medication may be helpful, it can be associated with negative side-effects. Music therapy is one treatment option that may be beneficial in addition to or in stead of chemical interventions.
The modern music therapy profession was born in the early to mid-1900’s as musicians began serving veterans suffering from the lingering trauma of war. Music therapists continue to serve in that capacity, catering not only to the needs of veterans, but also to victims of abuse, violent crimes, accidents, natural disasters, or any other event that has resulted in chronic mental distress. Here are a few ways music therapy may help those with PTSD.
As with other therapies, a music therapy session is a safe place for clients to express whatever thoughts or feelings that they need to. Music therapy is unique to some other types of treatment, however, in that the client can express these things both verbally, through speech or song, and non-verbally, through instrumental improvisation or music listening. Sometimes words are hard to find, and in music therapy, that’s A-okay.
Developing Coping Methods
A music therapy session will likely only be once or twice a week, so it may be important for the client and therapist to identify and work on some strategies to ease symptoms and improve functioning during the rest of the week. This may include breathing techniques, selecting music to sing or listen to at difficult moments, music-lead meditation, or prompts for music making or song writing at home.
Some studies demonstrate that people with PTSD can benefit from being part of a music therapy group. This may involve musical improvisations, singing, group story-telling or song writing that focusses on sharing and working through the experiences of group members. Since PTSD can involve social withdrawal or feelings of isolation, group music therapy may be an effective and unthreatening way to connect with others.
If you think you or someone you know could benefit from music therapy, feel free to get in touch by emailing: