I want to be clear in this post that I am not a music therapist nor do I have background in music therapy. What I am describing in this post is not considered clinical music therapy. I have utilized music much in my practice for therapeutic purposes but it is important to know that music therapists use music as therapy (versus in therapy) and have a diverse array of interventions for engage clients in musical activities that are therapeutic. For more information about music therapy you can visit www.musictherapy.org
When I worked with adolescents music was a lifeline to getting to share their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes lyrics to a song can describe how we feel even better than we can articulate ourselves. When I posed questions to my clients such as “Create a soundtrack to your life,” or “Choose a song that best represents you” songs immediately came to their mind and we could use it as a starting point to uncover their thoughts and feelings.
We all have songs that have deep meaning in our lives whether it was a song that played at a special event or a song that takes us back to period in our lives. Music reminds us of a feeling, a time, a person, or a place. When we apply meaning to music we channel a part of ourselves when we listen to it that can provide therapeutic benefits such as recalling memories, expressing thoughts or feelings, or connecting
I find it helpful to have several healing songs in my playlist that I can play when I am struggling with different emotions. For days where I feel sad or run down I like to play “Breathe Me” by Sia. For me this song is cathartic and a helps me release my emotions not only because of the lyrics but also because of the music itself, the song even without the singing conveys strong emotions. When I listen to it I let myself sit with my feelings and be sad or lonely. When the song finishes I feel a sense of closure and an ability to start to move on from my mood and take action. That is when I when I search for songs that are more upbeat and empowering.
Here are some songs from my therapeutic playlist to play when you need to release sadness, need empowerment and hope, and some songs about parenting and motherhood that can be healing as well and remind you of how amazing it is to be a parent.
Breathe Me- Sia
She Used to Be Mine- Sara Bareilles
After All- Dar Williams
Pavement Cracks- Annie Lennox
Summer, Highland Falls- Billy Joel
Clare De Lune- Claude DeBussy
Change Gonna Come- Otis Redding
Dog Days Are Over- Florence and the Machine
That I would Be Good-Alanis Morrisette
Float On- Modest Mouse
Fix You Up- Tegan and Sara
Brave- Sara Bareilles
I’ve Got A Name- Jim Croce
I Am Mine- Pearl Jam
Can’t Keep It In- Cat Stevens
The Pretender- Foo Fighters
The Things We’ve Handed Down- Marc Cohn
Slow Down- Nichole Nordeman
The Best Day of My Life- American Authors (reminds me of the day my son was born)
Danny’s Song- Kenny Loggins
Baby Mine- Bette Midler
Love of My Life- Carly Simon
Watch Them Grow-Zach Gill
Although I’m not a Country music fan myself I also recommend the song Turn on the Lights by Wade Bowen which is a beautiful song written about the singer’s wife’s struggle with postpartum depression.
So I hope you can find some songs that you connect with this week and make them readily available to you. When you have a moment to yourself listen to them and allow yourself to be washed over with the emotions the music conveys. Let the emotions out, reflect on how you relate to it, and allow the music to heal you.
What are some songs that you find therapeutic?