Naturally, humans are expressive creatures. We can connect experience with created meaning in expressive ways. We can do this through language, art, music, and many other ways. One fascinating area of mental health research and applied science is the use of expressive art therapies like music.
One way to understand the impact of arts and music on emotional and behavioral issues is by understanding a concept in neuroscience called “hemispheric lateralization.” Lateralization refers to the scientific reality that human (and animal) brains are divided into hemispheres that process information in different ways and effect different aspects of human behavior (Rogers, 2021). Different areas of the brain, such as the left and right hemispheres, specialize in their specific functions.
Roles of the Left Vs. Right Side of the Brain
It is acknowledged that the left hemisphere of the brain is specialized in analytic and language functions. This is what talk therapy also known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) targets. However, focusing solely on “talk” therapy, or use of language functions, leaves out a lot of the brain’s capacity for healing. This is because the right side of the brain is more focused on images, feelings, and creative processes. The left brain helps us narrate our experience, which is very important, but so are the creative aspects of the right brain.
At kathy ireland® Recovery Centers, we truly take a whole brain approach. We use evidence-based talk therapies that target processes of change associated with human language, but we also integrate alternative therapies such as expressive arts approaches, such as music therapy, that give creative expression of experience. This whole brain approach allows the greatest opportunity for healing, connection with values, and strengthening of attachment and social bonds.
Ways to Incorporate Music Into Your Life
If you are curious how you can use music as an element of your own recovery (and as a way to tap into the right side of the brain for further healing), here are some suggestions:
- Use music as a mindfulness practice. Put on a song and focus on engaging single-mindedly and openly to your experience of listening to the song.
- Write lyrics about an experience that seems to be important and needs to be processed. The goal isn’t to write a hit song but lyrics that are true to your experience.
- Take up learning an instrument. Playing an instrument is an activity that provides an opportunity for creative distraction and healthy escape from the demands of life.
- Hum or sing to yourself. This really helps. It is very hard to be worried while singing.
If you’re interested in our substance use disorder treatment services, such as our New Hampshire-based Intensive Outpatient Program, which incorporates evidence-based modalities as well as alternative therapies like music therapy, visit our website to learn more.
Rogers, L., J. (2021). Brain lateralization and cognitive capacity. Animals, 11(7). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8300231/pdf/animals-11-01996.pdf
About kathy ireland® Recovery Centers – Laconia
kathy ireland® Recovery Centers – Laconia (ki®RC) merges the brand of excellence of kathy ireland® Worldwide with the management expertise of Ascension Recovery Services. ki®RC provides treatment across the continuum for people struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues. ki®RC – Laconia provides Intensive Outpatient and Outpatient services to aid clients in their recovery journey. Managed by Ascension Recovery Services, ki®RC – Laconia’s leadership team has decades of experience in the industry and brings the requisite expertise to assist in providing focused, high-quality care.