Understanding Emotions Through Music Therapy: A Journey of Emotional Processing, Identification, and Self-Awareness

As a board-certified music therapist with 20 years of experience, I have witnessed the transformative power of music therapy in assisting individuals with emotional processing, identification of emotions, and self-awareness. Music therapy is an allied healthcare profession, and our practitioners are specifically trained and certified to work in these critical areas. Utilizing the principles of social-emotional learning, we create and use songs to help clients cope with a wide range of emotions, including those that can feel negative or stressful such as anger, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, and disgust.

Emotional Processing Through Music

Music therapy provides a unique avenue for emotional processing. Through music, individuals can express emotions that may be difficult to articulate with words alone. A few examples include therapist led improvisation on a drum which can allow a person to release pent-up anger. Or, singing empowering lyrics which can help soothe anxiety and decrease feelings of self-doubt. The non-invasive nature of music provides a safe and creative outlet for emotional expression, making it particularly effective for those who struggle with traditional talk therapy.

Identifying Emotions with the Help of Music

Identifying and labeling emotions is a crucial step in emotional intelligence and self-awareness. In music therapy, we often create and utilize songs that explore different emotions and scenarios. These songs serve as tools for clients to recognize and name their feelings. For instance, a song about a character experiencing fear can help a child identify their own fears and begin to articulate them.

Building Self-Awareness Through Music

Self-awareness is the ability to understand one’s own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Music therapy fosters self-awareness by encouraging clients to reflect on their emotional responses to music. We might ask, “How did that song make you feel?” or “What emotions did you notice when you played that piece?” This reflection helps clients become more attuned to their internal experiences and better understand the connections between their emotions and actions.

Coping with Negative Emotions

Coping with negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, and feelings of insecurity is a vital part of emotional health. In music therapy, we use songs and musical activities to develop coping strategies. For example, we might create a song that includes deep breathing cues to help manage anxiety or use rhythmic exercises to channel and diffuse anger. We also may utilize client preferred music in order to meet them where they are at and discuss the lyrics of the songs they bring to the table.


Music therapy is a powerful tool for emotional processing, identification of emotions, and self-awareness. By integrating elements of social-emotional learning and drawing inspiration from popular music, we strive to have a positive impact on our client’s lives. Our board-certified music therapists are equipped to guide individuals through their emotional journeys, helping them to better understand and manage their emotions, and ultimately, to lead more fulfilling lives.

If you’re interested in exploring how music therapy can support you or a loved one in emotional processing and self-awareness, please reach out to our practice. We are here to help you navigate the symphony of your emotions with compassion and expertise.