It is known that listening to classical music and possibly other forms of music can lead to the "Mozart effect". Research over the past several decades has documented many positive effects, 1,2,3 including improved cognition and mood, a state of calmness and relaxation that can help with insomnia, improve the immune system, increase neural plasticity, lower blood pressure, and help. in treating epilepsy in children and increasing altruism. This process appears to be mediated by dopamine release, reduction of stress hormones, and other unknown mechanisms. Throughout history, music has soothed our souls, so why not use this effect to help couples in their therapy?
Since retiring from clinical psychiatry, I have had more time to pursue my other passion in life; Play the piano. As every pianist knows, playing Bach is a ritual. His music teaches us "counterpoint," which is "a combination of two or more independent melodies into a single harmonic structure, each retaining its linear character." Recently, returning to these wonderful works, I have been thinking about how classical music and other types of music can help our practice of psychotherapy, and couples therapy in particular. Of course, music therapists have long known about its powerful uses in medicine and psychiatry. 4:
Applying this principle and the Mozart effect can be a unique way to understand and heal relationship problems. Numerous studies have shown that strong relationships benefit our mental and physical health. 5 They help us weather the storms of life in difficult times. Couples therapy can be a frustrating and difficult process. As this approach becomes more mainstream, hopefully there can be significant progress and growth, especially in the face of congestion.
When I play Bach, I concentrate intensely on the conversation between the two left and right voices and try to get them to sing together. They listen to each other and then respond by adding, refining, clarifying, or working toward a solution. However, the decision cannot be rushed. do not rush to conclusions. A pianist must be patient, eloquent, and sensitive to the changing dynamics that lead to a solution. Sometimes there is a decrescendo, crescendo or ritard; but regardless, it only happens with two intertwined melodies together. This contrasting process is similar to the listening process found in all forms of psychotherapy.
Applying the concept of contrast to couples therapy
This process has profound implications for all psychotherapy practice, but especially for work with couples and families. Here are some recommendations based on this concept:
- Think cleanly and calmly before discussing an important and potentially charged topic.
- Try listening to music beforehand alone or together for a more productive discussion.
- Schedule a time/place for a face-to-face interview. Avoid if you are tired, drunk or too distracted by other things. It is normal to ask for a better time delay.
- Pay attention to the deeper meaning and context and only respond when you are sure you understand the message. If it is not clear, ask for clarification.
- Do not assume others and/or make false assumptions. every conversation and every "performance" is filled with new possibilities.
- Don't interrupt. Work on developing patience and self-control.
- Avoid mentioning what could be controlling behavior.
- Avoid being too passive or aggressive; learn to be more assertive by being as eloquent as possible. (When playing Bach, the "sustain pedal" is not used, as it can interfere with the clarity of the notes).
- Don't rush to find a solution; let it develop naturally. Realize that you are creating music together that cannot and should not be forced.
As you work to improve these basic skills, remember that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. In this context, dissonance can suddenly transform to leave a more harmonious outlook. Positive feelings and memories can come back strong.
Of course, there are many forms of couples therapy with different techniques and interventions. Be that as it may, we can still benefit from the exquisite beauty of Bach's beautiful musical language and the lessons it teaches. Couples can benefit from listening to their favorite music (it doesn't have to be classical, of course) to relax and work on their listening skills together.
Let's not forget that listening to music, especially after a hectic and stressful day, will help calm our own nerves. Classical music, including Bach and many other musical genres, has the effect of creating a sense of order and beauty, thus connecting us to something transcendent. We can all use a daily dose at any time.