Self-Care in Music for Music Therapists

By Maddie Horton, MusicWorx Intern
Edited by Stacey Sargent, Resounding Joy Intern, and Jess Blaisus, Director of Engagement.

MusicWorx offers interns the unique opportunity to work on a special project. This project can be on any topic, and we have an endless amount of choices for the mode of our final product. I decided to do my special project on burnout and self-care. I conducted a literary review and created a booklet indicating the most important aspects I thought music therapists could benefit from. Additionally, I included a wide variety of self-care tips and ideas. The most important of these self-care categories was music.

Self-care is an extremely personal practice due to the varying needs of each individual. Similarly to how a music therapist would assess a client’s needs, they often must also assess their own. The consistency of self-care practices changes depending on the person. You can include it in daily routines, do it at specified and pre-planned times during the week, or use it spontaneously when you find it necessary. Regardless, music therapists must implement a form of self-care in their lives, as it acts as a preventative measure against burnout and assists in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Self-care not only includes disconnection from work, but may include a form of separation from other life obligations as well.

Music therapists, unsurprisingly, typically have a strong connection to music, and some may already use music as a form of self-care. However, for others, because they are using music in a professional manner, finding ways for them to apply it to self-care practices in their personal lives is more difficult. While music therapists are already aware of the impact music as a whole can have on an individual’s mood, they may not apply that knowledge to intentional self-care or self-regulation techniques. Here are a few examples of ways music therapists can integrate music into their self-care routine:


Creating playlists

Music therapists can have specified music playlists for morning/nighttime, car rides, cooking meals, or other routine activities. In order to decompress after sessions or raise energy levels before work, therapists can implement the iso principle into these playlists. They can match the music to their current mood and slowly transition through the playlist to the desired one.


Learning songs for the purpose of self-enjoyment

To maintain their connection with music and assist in self-care, music therapists can select songs to practice or learn that are not intended or currently necessary for their work. If time is an issue, music therapists can practice a song with the intention of adding it to their repertoire, to reduce a sense of pressure.


Enjoying live music

Watching a live musician is more intimate than recorded music, and audience members play a role in the overall experience. As a musician themselves, watching live artists perform can give music therapists a space to enjoy the involvement of the experience without actively playing an instrument.  If this form of self-care is especially helpful, integrating a weekly routine of finding live artists offers the opportunity to form relationships with the community, or even the musicians themselves.

Music therapists can use music in their self-care routine in countless ways, but I included these specific ones because I personally integrate these practices into my own routines. The best part about self-care is that a person can do it in so many different ways depending on their needs. Take time to learn which self-care practices work best for you, and avoid burnout, relieve stress, and improve your quality of life!

Further Reading:

[button size=”large” type=”normal” target=”_self” text=”PRACTICING WHAT WE PREACH: ANALYSING MUSIC THERAPIST’S USE OF MUSIC FOR LEISURE” link=””]
[button size=”large” type=”normal” target=”_self” text=”MUSIC & CREATIVE ARTS FOR SELF-CARE” link=””]


CEO / Founder
P: 858.457.2201

11300 Sorrento Valley Rd., Ste. 104,
San Diego, CA