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How music therapy helps - even in times of social crisis


As the new year begins, the temptation as a music therapy organisation is to write something on the surface about looking after yourself, simple means of self care and not worrying about making resolutions if you don’t want to.


But at the moment that is not the situation many people are living in. Our rail staff, airport workers, motorway operators - our nurses and our paramedics in our NHS - are on strike. The cost of living and energy crises are sending many households into spiral. 


The mental effects of the pandemic have not gone away - it might feel like we as a nation should have all somehow “moved on”, almost three years after the first lockdown began, but traumatic symptoms take time to surface. We at NLMT anticipate that the global trauma we all experienced could have a generational effect on our mental health. It was a once in a lifetime event.


Therapists are trained to work at the micro level, working with individuals or small groups and creating change within those small communities. There is a lot of talk online about whether therapy can truly be effective working in this way, when there are so many systemic issues creating barriers within our society: 


How can I turn up for weekly therapy when I’m not sure if I can heat my house?

What’s the point in working on myself when the world is getting hotter beyond repair?

I’m so stressed with work and family pressures - it feels selfish to carve out time for myself.


There’s a lot in life at the moment that we can’t control. It’s never been more apparent how much we’re struggling as a nation. It can make many of us feel hopeless and worried about the future, because there’s so much we can’t individually change.


At the same time, our individual stress and anxiety levels are at an all time high. Child referrals for mental health care in England are up by 39% in a year. A lot of people need help, and need it now.


While we can’t change the national and global situation, we have some control over our own thoughts and feelings. Working on those thoughts when we’re feeling stressed and anxious gives us the chance to make changes in our lives.


You can do this at home - being more mindful of the time you spend with yourself, others, work, screens, and whether the balance is right for you - or with a professional who can help you work through your own stuff.


Working on yourself gives the added bonus of developing and deepening existing relationships with friends, family and loved ones as they see how therapy has made changes in the one they love.


If you’ve been thinking about music therapy for a while, or want to find out more, here’s three things for you to consider:


  1. Know that in music therapy, the “therapy” is as important as the “music”. Using music helps you get to the therapeutic content that’s too difficult to put into words. We help children flourish at school, we get adults back to work, we see home relationships deepen and develop through one person’s work in their music therapy.

  2. If you or someone you know needs therapy now but your budget is a bit stretched, have a conversation with us. Our sessions do come with a cost, but if you need a tailored payment plan or an adjustment depending on your situation, call us and we can work out a plan together.

  3. NLMT works with people in music therapy for as long as is needed. That’s where we differ. On average, people have music therapy with us for 6 months to a year (sometimes shorter, sometimes much longer). When people finish, they often do not need to be signposted on somewhere else, because their mental resources are strong enough to manage independently. That’s life changing.


If you or someone you know needs music therapy now, send us a referral here.

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