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What Happens If Music Therapy Is Not Done Correctly What Happens If Music Therapy Is Not Done Correctly

Music Therapy

What Happens If Music Therapy Is Not Done Correctly

Written by: Carey Stratton

Discover the potential consequences of incorrect music therapy practices and the importance of proper implementation. Learn more about music therapy and its benefits.

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Table of Contents


Welcome to the world of music therapy, a powerful form of therapy that utilizes the healing properties of music to improve physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Music has been an essential part of human culture for centuries, and it has the ability to resonate deep within us, evoking emotions and memories like no other medium can. Music therapy takes advantage of this innate connection to support individuals in their healing and personal growth.

However, it is crucial to recognize that music therapy must be approached with care and expertise. Just as with any form of therapy, there can be risks associated with improper implementation. In this article, we will explore the potential consequences that may arise if music therapy is not done correctly, and the importance of seeking professional guidance to ensure a safe and effective experience.

Music therapy is a specialized field that involves the use of various musical techniques and interventions to address specific therapeutic goals. These goals can range from reducing stress and anxiety to improving cognitive function and enhancing communication skills. Music therapists undergo extensive training to develop their skills and understanding of how music can be used as a therapeutic tool.

When music therapy is conducted properly, it can have profound effects on individuals of all ages and conditions. It can help promote relaxation, facilitate emotional expression, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being. It can also serve as a means of communication for individuals who may struggle with verbal expression, allowing them to connect with others on a deeper level.

However, if music therapy is not implemented correctly, it can lead to unintended consequences. Just as with any form of therapy, improper techniques or inadequate training can result in negative effects. These effects can manifest in various ways and may impact individuals emotionally, psychologically, and physically.


The Importance of Music Therapy

Music therapy holds immense importance in the field of healthcare and well-being. It offers a unique and holistic approach to supporting individuals in their journey towards improved health and quality of life. Here are some key reasons why music therapy is essential:

  1. Emotional expression and regulation: Music has the power to tap into our emotions and provide a safe outlet for expression. By engaging in music therapy, individuals can explore and process their emotions in a non-verbal and non-threatening way. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with expressing themselves verbally or have difficulty accessing and identifying their emotions.
  2. Stress reduction and relaxation: Music has the ability to soothe and calm our minds, allowing us to experience deep relaxation. Music therapy utilizes calming and soothing musical elements to help individuals manage stress and anxiety. Through carefully selected music and relaxation techniques, individuals can experience a sense of peace and tranquility, reducing the negative effects of stress on their overall well-being.
  3. Pain management: Music therapy has been shown to be effective in managing pain and discomfort. The rhythmic and melodic elements of music can distract individuals from their physical pain and provide a sense of relief. It can also enhance the release of endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers, leading to increased comfort and improved pain tolerance.
  4. Enhanced social interaction: Music has a unique way of bringing people together. In a therapeutic setting, music can foster social interaction and connection. Group music therapy sessions provide opportunities for individuals to engage with others, build relationships, and develop important social skills. This is especially beneficial for individuals with social difficulties or those who may feel isolated or disconnected from others.
  5. Cognitive stimulation and development: Music stimulates various areas of the brain, including those responsible for memory, attention, and executive function. Music therapy can be tailored to address specific cognitive goals, such as improving memory, enhancing attention span, and promoting critical thinking. It offers an engaging and enjoyable way to exercise the mind and promote cognitive functioning.

These are just a few examples of the vital roles that music therapy plays in promoting health and well-being. It offers a holistic and non-invasive approach that is accessible to individuals of all ages and abilities. Whether utilized in hospitals, mental health settings, schools, or community centers, music therapy has the power to positively impact individuals’ lives and contribute to their overall physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.


Potential Risks of Improper Music Therapy

While music therapy can be incredibly beneficial, it’s important to recognize that improper implementation of this therapeutic approach can pose risks to individuals’ well-being. Here are some potential risks of improper music therapy:

  1. Emotional distress: Improperly conducted music therapy sessions may lead to emotional distress in individuals. If the therapist lacks the necessary training and expertise, they may not be able to effectively address and manage the intense emotional responses that music can evoke. This could result in individuals feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or even triggered by certain musical elements.
  2. Physical discomfort: Certain musical techniques and interventions may have physical implications if not applied correctly. For example, using excessively loud or intense music without considering individuals’ sensory sensitivities can cause discomfort, hearing damage, or heightened levels of stress. It is important for music therapists to carefully assess and monitor individuals’ physical responses to ensure their safety and comfort.
  3. Stagnation or regression: If music therapy is not facilitated appropriately, individuals may not experience the desired progress or growth. This could be a result of therapists using generic or non-individualized approaches that do not meet the specific needs and goals of each individual. It is crucial for music therapists to tailor their interventions to address the unique experiences and challenges of each person.
  4. Reinforcement of negative patterns: In some cases, improper music therapy may inadvertently reinforce negative emotional or behavioral patterns. Without proper guidance, individuals may find themselves continuously engaging with music that reinforces negative emotions or thoughts, hindering their progress in therapy. A skilled music therapist understands the importance of utilizing music that promotes positive change and supports individuals in developing healthier coping mechanisms.
  5. Failure to address underlying issues: Music therapy is most effective when it is integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses underlying issues. If music therapy is used as a standalone intervention without considering the broader context of an individual’s needs, it may not lead to lasting and meaningful results. It is essential for music therapists to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to ensure a holistic approach to treatment.

To mitigate these risks, it is crucial for individuals seeking music therapy to consult with qualified and experienced music therapists. These professionals have the necessary training and expertise to provide safe and effective music therapy interventions, while also adapting their approach to meet the unique needs of each individual. By prioritizing the well-being and safety of individuals, proper music therapy can offer transformative experiences and contribute to their overall healing and growth.


Emotional and Psychological Effects

Music therapy has the power to deeply impact individuals on an emotional and psychological level. Properly conducted music therapy sessions can elicit a range of positive emotions and support individuals in their emotional and psychological well-being. However, when music therapy is not done correctly, it can have adverse effects. Here are some emotional and psychological effects that may occur:

  1. Heightened emotional distress: Improper music therapy interventions may unintentionally trigger or intensify negative emotions in individuals. This can occur if the music or therapeutic techniques used do not align with individuals’ personal preferences or emotional needs. It is important for music therapists to create a safe and supportive environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing and processing their emotions.
  2. Increased anxiety and agitation: Inadequate training or lack of understanding about individual sensitivities may lead to the use of music that increases anxiety or agitation. The wrong choice of music or the use of overly stimulating techniques can overwhelm individuals, making them feel uneasy or on edge. Skilled music therapists are trained to select appropriate music and create a calming atmosphere that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.
  3. Lack of emotional connection: Music therapy is a powerful tool for fostering emotional connection and expression. However, if conducted improperly, individuals may struggle to connect with the music or find it difficult to form a meaningful rapport with the therapist. This can hinder the therapeutic process and result in a lack of emotional engagement and progress. Skilled music therapists establish a strong therapeutic alliance and ensure a supportive connection with their clients.
  4. Disconnect from personal experiences: Inaccurate interpretation or miscommunication of individuals’ personal experiences and narratives through music can lead to a sense of disconnect. Music therapy should aim to validate and honor individuals’ experiences and feelings, but when it is not done correctly, individuals may feel misunderstood or invalidated. Music therapists with proper training and sensitivity ensure that the music chosen reflects and supports individuals’ unique journeys.
  5. Limited emotional growth: Properly conducted music therapy can facilitate emotional growth and development by promoting self-expression, self-awareness, and emotional regulation. However, if music therapy is not implemented effectively, individuals may miss out on crucial opportunities for emotional growth. This can result in stagnation or a lack of forward progress in therapy. A skilled music therapist creates a nurturing space where individuals can explore and expand their emotional capacity.

It is important to remember that the emotional and psychological effects of music therapy can vary greatly depending on the individual and their specific needs. Properly trained music therapists understand the nuances involved and continually assess and adapt their approach to ensure a positive and empowering experience for individuals.


Physical Effects

Music therapy has been recognized for its potential physical benefits, as it can affect the body in various ways. When implemented correctly, music therapy can contribute to improved physical well-being. However, improper music therapy techniques can lead to adverse physical effects. Here are some potential physical effects of improper music therapy:

  1. Increased stress and tension: The wrong choice of music or inappropriate therapeutic techniques can increase stress levels and create physical tension in individuals. Loud or dissonant music, for example, can raise cortisol levels and heighten the body’s stress response, leading to physical discomfort and potential health repercussions. Skilled music therapists select music that promotes relaxation and uses techniques that alleviate physical tension.
  2. Hearing damage: Improperly calibrated sound levels or the frequent use of excessively loud music can contribute to hearing damage. Prolonged exposure to high-volume music can harm the delicate structures of the inner ear, leading to hearing loss or other auditory complications. Music therapists with proper training understand the importance of monitoring sound levels and ensuring the safety of individuals’ hearing during sessions.
  3. Disruption of sleep patterns: Inappropriate use of stimulating or energizing music during music therapy sessions, particularly close to bedtime, can disrupt individuals’ sleep patterns. Music therapy should aim to promote relaxation and a sense of calm, especially when it comes to sessions conducted in the evening. Skilled music therapists are mindful of the timing and content of the music used to avoid negatively impacting individuals’ sleep quality.
  4. Aggravation of physical symptoms: Certain musical interventions may exacerbate physical symptoms or conditions if not chosen carefully. For example, individuals with muscular or neurological disorders may experience increased muscle tension or spasms in response to certain types of music. A comprehensive assessment of individuals’ physical conditions and the use of appropriate musical techniques are essential to prevent the worsening of physical symptoms.
  5. Overstimulation or understimulation: Inadequate understanding of an individual’s sensory preferences can lead to either overstimulation or understimulation during music therapy sessions. This can result in individuals feeling overwhelmed or bored, negatively impacting their engagement and physical response. Experienced music therapists are attentive to individuals’ sensory needs and adapt their approach to ensure an optimal level of stimulation.

It is crucial for music therapists to have a strong understanding of the potential physical effects of music therapy interventions and to implement techniques that prioritize the well-being and safety of individuals. By considering individuals’ specific physical needs and adapting the musical elements accordingly, music therapy can contribute to positive physical outcomes and an improved overall sense of well-being.


Cognitive Effects

Music therapy has the potential to positively impact cognitive functioning and abilities. When implemented correctly, music therapy interventions can stimulate various cognitive processes and enhance overall cognitive development. However, improper music therapy techniques can produce unintended cognitive effects. Here are some potential cognitive effects of improper music therapy:

  1. Reduced attention and focus: Inappropriate choice of music or therapeutic techniques may lead to reduced attention and focus in individuals. If the music is too distracting or overwhelming, individuals may struggle to concentrate on the intended therapeutic goals. Skilled music therapists select music that promotes a conducive environment for concentration and maintain strategies to sustain individuals’ engagement throughout the session.
  2. Confusion and disorientation: Improperly structured and organized music therapy sessions may result in confusion and disorientation. Lack of clear structure, appropriate transitions, or the use of complex musical elements can cause individuals to feel lost or disconnected from the therapeutic process. A skilled music therapist ensures clear communication and provides a structured framework that supports individuals’ understanding and engagement.
  3. Ineffective memory enhancement: Music therapy is often utilized to improve memory and recall abilities. However, without proper guidance, the potential benefits of music on memory may not be fully realized. Lack of personalized approaches or insufficient understanding of individuals’ learning styles and preferences may hinder the effectiveness of memory-enhancing techniques. Skilled music therapists tailor interventions to optimize memory recall and provide strategies that align with individuals’ unique cognitive profiles.
  4. Missed opportunities for cognitive stimulation: Improper selection or implementation of music therapy interventions can result in missed opportunities for cognitive stimulation. Inadequate variation in musical stimuli or limitations in utilizing different musical elements may limit the cognitive challenges individuals face during therapy. Skilled music therapists introduce diverse music genres, tempos, and rhythmic patterns to provide a range of cognitive stimuli and promote cognitive flexibility and growth.
  5. Challenges in executive functioning: Executive functions, such as planning, organization, and problem-solving, can be enhanced through music therapy interventions. However, improper implementation of activities that require executive functioning skills may lead to frustration or a lack of progress. Music therapists with specialized training in cognitive rehabilitation consider individuals’ cognitive strengths and challenges, carefully tailoring interventions to promote the development and utilization of executive functions.

It is important for music therapists to have a comprehensive understanding of cognitive processes and to apply evidence-based techniques when working with individuals. By utilizing appropriate music and therapeutic strategies, music therapy can effectively support cognitive development, enhance cognitive abilities, and promote optimal cognitive functioning.


Strategies for Proper Music Therapy

To ensure the safe and effective implementation of music therapy, it is important for music therapists to employ specific strategies and approaches. These strategies help create a conducive therapeutic environment and promote positive outcomes for individuals. Here are some key strategies for proper music therapy:

  1. Individualized approach: Each individual has unique needs, goals, and preferences. Music therapists should conduct thorough assessments to understand individuals’ backgrounds, experiences, and current challenges. By tailoring interventions to address the specific needs of each person, music therapists can ensure that therapy is relevant and meaningful.
  2. Proper training and expertise: Music therapy is a specialized field that requires extensive training and expertise. Music therapists should have the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively use music as a therapeutic tool. They should hold appropriate certifications and stay updated on best practices and research in the field to provide high-quality, evidence-based care.
  3. Empathy and active listening: A critical aspect of proper music therapy is the ability to develop a strong therapeutic relationship. Music therapists should demonstrate empathy, compassion, and active listening skills to create a safe and trusting environment. By truly understanding individuals’ experiences and emotions, therapists can tailor interventions that resonate with and support their unique journeys.
  4. Assessment and ongoing evaluation: Comprehensive assessments help music therapists understand individuals’ strengths, challenges, and progress. Regular evaluations throughout the therapy process allow therapists to monitor the effectiveness of interventions and make necessary adjustments. Assessment tools can include observation, standardized tests, and subjective feedback from individuals and their caregivers.
  5. Adapting interventions: Music therapists should be flexible and adaptable in their approach. They should be skilled at selecting and modifying musical elements to suit individuals’ preferences and needs. This may involve adjusting tempo, genre, instrumentation, or therapeutic techniques to ensure optimal engagement and therapeutic outcomes.
  6. Collaboration with other professionals: Music therapy is often part of a comprehensive treatment plan. It is important for music therapists to collaborate and communicate with other healthcare professionals, such as doctors, psychologists, and occupational therapists. This promotes a holistic approach to an individual’s care and ensures that all aspects of their well-being are addressed.
  7. Evidence-based practice: Music therapists should base their interventions on current research and best practices. This helps ensure that therapy is grounded in evidence and delivers the most effective outcomes. Staying updated on research and participating in continuing education opportunities are vital for maintaining a high standard of care.

By employing these strategies, music therapists can provide proper and effective music therapy interventions. Individuals can experience the full benefits of music therapy, including improved emotional well-being, enhanced cognitive function, and overall improved quality of life.



Music therapy is a powerful form of therapy that harnesses the healing properties of music to improve individuals’ physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. However, it is crucial to recognize the importance of proper implementation to ensure safe and effective outcomes. Improper music therapy techniques can lead to undesirable consequences, such as emotional distress, physical discomfort, cognitive challenges, and missed therapeutic opportunities.

To mitigate these risks, music therapy must be conducted by trained and qualified professionals who understand the intricacies of the therapeutic process. By employing strategies such as an individualized approach, proper training, empathy, ongoing assessment, adaptability, collaboration, and evidence-based practice, music therapists can create a supportive environment and deliver personalized interventions that address the unique needs and goals of each individual.

Properly conducted music therapy has the potential to elicit positive emotional expression, support stress reduction and relaxation, manage pain, enhance social interaction, stimulate cognitive function, and promote overall well-being. It can be a transformative experience for individuals of all ages and conditions.

In conclusion, the field of music therapy holds immense value in the realm of healthcare and well-being. When done correctly, it can bring about profound positive effects in individuals’ lives. By recognizing the potential risks of improper music therapy and prioritizing the application of appropriate strategies, we can ensure that individuals receive the full benefits of this powerful therapy. Seek the guidance of qualified music therapists to embark on a safe and transformative music therapy journey that promotes healing, growth, and a heightened sense of well-being.

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