The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) says the goal of music therapy is to help build relationships, so people feel more comfortable addressing issues they may not be able to address in conventional talk therapy programs. In other words, when it comes to substance abuse, music therapy is designed to bring a therapist and a client close together, so they can discuss the trauma, the history, and the course of an addiction. With that relationship firmly in place, they can use the language of music to develop solutions for those problems. Then, together, they can heal.
While the general goals of music therapy involve connection and communication, there are secondary goals associated with the therapy that might come with specific, tangible benefits.
For some, those benefits have to do with anxiety. For people with a history of addiction, anxiety can stem from a form of brain cell damage caused by drugs. That anxiety can keep them locked in a cycle of drug abuse.
Breaking this cycle involves finding a new way to deal with nervousness when it appears. Music may help. In music therapy, instructors may help their clients to use music as a form of distraction or meditation. With music, they could keep calm, and that could keep them from relapsing to drugs.
Music may also help to heal feelings of pain or sadness. For people with addictions, those feelings may stem from trauma or poor decision-making. When the feelings arise, people may not have the ability to cope with them. Drugs seem like the only option available. A therapist may help people to explore these difficult emotions through music.