Person to Person: When music is the best therapy


Feeling tense? Feeling down? Feeling bored? Feeling lonely?

Want a quick fix? Put down that pill. Don’t reach for another drink. Don’t open the fridge again.

Instead, listen to music. No, not just any music. Be picky. Find the beat and the lyrics that speak to you. Yes, it could be classical music that is soul enriching without any lyrics. But for many, it is the lyrics that tell us we are not alone. Somebody else understands. Somebody else knows what we’re going through. Somebody else’s spirit touches ours.

I don’t care if you are a music buff and can rattle off the words to scores of songs. Or, if you are memory challenged and may not know the lyrics to even one song. I don’t even care if you are tone deaf or totally deaf. Music can still do the trick — if you let it.

Sometimes there’s a line from a song that’s repeated so often that it simply sinks in to your subconscious – whether you want it to or not. Hear Bob Marley’s infectious beat coupled with the lyrics:

“Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing’s gonna be all right.”

Hear it repeated again and again. Then, don’t be surprised if you have the best night’s sleep you’ve had in ages.

Sometimes a song’s title sparks inspiration – providing hope when hope seems to have walked out the door. Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope you Dance” does that for me.

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean

Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens

Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance

I hope you dance”

A song may originate as an anthem for a national movement. Then decades later, it can stir an individual to believe in a better future, even in her deepest, darkest days.

“We shall overcome, we shall overcome

We shall overcome someday;

Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,

We shall overcome someday.”

Sometimes a song reminds us of a basic truth we’d rather ignore. No, we can’t always get what we want? Bummer! But, the Rolling Stones remind us, we just might get what we need.

“You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes, well you might find

You get what you need”

Music is often the best therapy. Let a song pop into your head. Don’t think about it. Just let it appear. Feel the beat of the music. Hear the lyrics. Trust that whatever music has surfaced in your brain right now is exactly what you need to hear.


Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice who specializes in helping people overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior —especially debilitating fear and chronic procrastination. She is the author of six self-help books, available on Amazon or at