Music Therapy and Teenagers

At this stage of life, music preferences are shaped by what our friends like and tend to move away from what our parents like. It is important to find out what kind of music your teen is listening to and to talk about the messages in the music. What we listen to throughout the day influences the messages we hear in our head, which influences our mood and outlook on life. Do not judge the music, but be open to talking about the music and help your teen determine how the music she is listening to influences her mood or thoughts. We get to decide what mood or thoughts we wish to have — does the music we listen to support the mood or thoughts we choose?

Music therapy is useful if your teen has difficulty with self expression, social skills, cognition, speech/language, or sensorimotor skills. The principles of music as therapy may be the same across the life span, but the key here is to select music that respects the teen’s individuality and is appropriate for his/her age. Usually, music therapy techniques are used for teens with diagnosed developmental disabilities, like Autism or Down’s Syndrome. Sometimes people with developmental disabilities like music that would be more appropriate for someone younger. It’s important to respect your teen’s preferences, while still exposing him to music that is age-appropriate. So if your teen still listens to the Wiggles, let him listen when he chooses the Wiggles, but also offer choices or play music from High School Musical or other current popular music. You might also continue to offer or play music that you enjoy.

Another serious issue to consider is the volume of music that your teen is listening to. Long-term hearing damage can occur if your teen attends concerts or listens to music on earphones that is turned up too loud. A general rule is that if you can hear the music that your teen is listening to through earphones, it is too loud. Be sure to discuss the harm of listening to loud music with them and provide earplugs for concerts.

If you have questions about music therapy benefits for your teen, send me an email. I’d be glad to help!