Can Art and Music Therapy Help Heal The Brain?

Most people have experienced the emotional release and satisfaction that comes with creating art. Whether it’s taking a few minutes to doodle during a meeting, painting a picture, or playing an instrument, the process of expression can be incredibly therapeutic. A growing body of research shows that art and music therapy can also have a positive and lasting impact on brain health.

What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a type of therapy that uses art to help people communicate, express themselves, and explore their thoughts and feelings. The practice involves using art-making as a way to express oneself and improve one’s well-being. While art therapy can take many different forms, the goal of art therapy is to help people express themselves and work through difficult emotions.

During sessions, art therapists help people understand the connection between art and mental health. They also help people heal from trauma, manage anxiety, and work through other mental health issues. The benefits of art are thought to come from both the creative process and the finished product. The act of making art can help reduce stress levels, increase feelings of self-efficacy, and boost mood. Art therapy has also been shown to be effective for a wide range of conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, and brain injuries. The finished art project can also help improve self-esteem and foster a sense of pride.

Art Therapy and The Brain

One of the most important benefits of art therapy is its ability to improve brain health. Art therapy can help heal the brain in several ways. For starters, it can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. Art making can be a meditative and calming activity, and it can help to take the focus off of negative thoughts and rumination. Art therapy can also help improve cognitive function and executive functioning skills. Creating art requires focus, concentration, and problem-solving, all of which can help sharpen the mind.

Art therapy also helps heal parts of the brain most affected by addiction. One recent study found that art therapy increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with self-control, planning, and decision-making. This suggests that art therapy may help improve brain health by helping people control their impulses and make better decisions. The study also found that art therapy increased connectivity between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, which can help reduce fear and anxiety. Another study found that art therapy was associated with increased gray matter in the parts of the brain responsible for processing emotions, decision-making, and self-control. These findings suggest that art therapy has a significant and positive impact on the brain.

Art therapy can also be especially beneficial for those experiencing cognitive decline or neurological conditions. When people create art, they engage multiple areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functioning skills like planning and decision-making. As such, routinely making art can help strengthen the same brain areas neurological conditions affect.

Additionally, the act of making art can also help to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood and motivation.

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a type of therapy that uses music to improve clients’ physical, emotional, and mental health. Music therapists use music to achieve therapeutic goals such as reducing stress, managing pain, improving communication, and boosting self-esteem. Music therapy has also become a popular way to improve physical, emotional, and cognitive health.

During sessions, therapists use music to help people address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Music therapy sessions can vary widely, but they typically involve some combination of music listening, singing, songwriting, and instrument playing. Music therapists also engage their clients in conversation and encourage them to talk about the music. Studies have shown that music therapy can be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Music therapy can be a powerful tool in helping people to heal and find joy in their lives. Ultimately, the goal of music therapy is to improve the quality of life for individuals by using music as a therapeutic tool.

Music Therapy and The Brain

Research shows that music therapy can have a positive effect on the brain. Music therapy helps reduce stress and anxiety, and can also help to improve cognitive function. Additionally, music therapy positively impacts several parts of the brain, including those responsible for memory, communication, and emotion. Some studies have even found that music therapy can improve the quality of life for people with dementia.

One way music therapy helps improve brain function is by stimulating the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation. Studies also show that music therapy can help improve serotonin levels. When the brain has an adequate amount of serotonin, people have reduced feelings of depression and anxiety and increased feelings of joy and happiness. Additionally, when people listen to music, multiple areas of the brain are activated, including the auditory cortex, the motor cortex, and the limbic system. This engagement of multiple areas of the brain can help improve the way the brain functions overall.

Different music therapies can target different areas of the brain. For example, music therapies that focus on rhythm can be used to help improve coordination, while music therapies that focus on a melody can be used to help improve memory. In general, music therapy can help to improve communication, social skills, and emotional well-being. Music therapy has also been shown to boost immunity, reduce pain, and improve sleep quality.

Creatively Restoring The Brain To Optimal Health

While the brain is an incredibly complex organ, it can be healed and nurtured through creative means, like music and art therapy. If you or a loved one is struggling with brain fog, a neurological disorder, or mental health condition, contact us to learn more about how these therapies can help. Our team is passionate about helping people overcome challenges, heal the brain, and live a thriving, purposeful life.

Innovative, Evidence-Based Therapies

Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

This low-impact magnetic stimulation activates neurons inside the brain, relieving symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

qEEG/Brain Mapping

Using brain scanning and readings, we create a map of our patients’ brains, helping us develop more targeted and effective treatments.


This process assists patients in visualizing their own brain functionality through continuous EEG readings.

Spravato Therapy

We use carefully monitored doses of Spravato to help patients struggling with complex mental health disorders, including severe depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Patients use this practice to help reframe intrusive or negative thought patterns and develop coping techniques for long-term recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This practice helps patients learn to regulate emotions, communicate more effectively, and process their own thoughts and feelings..

Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR)

Licensed and trained therapists guide patients through this technique for managing stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis.

Individual Therapy

Patients experience one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist to provide a safe and private place to recover and heal.

Group/Family Therapy

Patients can practice the skills and techniques they have learned in treatment with others in a safe, therapist-guided space.

Contact StoneRidge Centers

5940 E. Copper Hill Dr. Ste B & E, Prescott Valley, AZ. 86314

We exercise progressive, leading brain science in our treatment approach for patients in our community and across the country who are struggling with mental health and addiction challenges.