Music Therapy for Chronic Pain Management by Joel Kroeker

September 21, 2014

(Pamela’s note:  a warm welcome to Joel Kroeker, Music-Centered Psychotherapist, our guest blogger for this entry.  If you follow this site, you no doubt are already familiar with the healing power of music.  Joel’s work gets down into the specifics of how that all works in the body.)

Many of our clients deal with issues of pain on various levels which has an impact on all aspects of wellness from body, mind and brain to family, relationships and community. Chronic pain is one of the most common complaints that patients bring to family physicians and often there can be a comorbidity with anxiety or depression. Clearly this is a pervasive form of suffering that we as music therapists need to find a way to address. Knowing more about how pain actually works can help us create more effective interventions for our clients and ourselves. With chronic pain, our brain interprets danger messages from the body which can become habitual and eventually as the spinal cord creates more receptors for pain it can lead to a hyper sensitive nervous system.

At a recent series of experiential presentations I gave at a local hospital pain clinic we came to the conclusion together that musical dissonance can be a metaphor for the experience of pain. It insults our aesthetic sensibilities, it can be hard to contain, unpredictable and it can set off a somatic chain reaction of distasteful protective responses.

Once this insight arose, we were able to work together as a group through musical improvisation, exploring the body through somatic vocalization and dialogue to find ways to relate with the pain (and dissonance) in a more effective way. This insight arose from the psychotherapeutic group work we did and our musical exploration of various ways to break into this closed ‘pain cycle’ at various points in order to begin finding some liberation.

Come join us online (October 5th, 2014 at 10:45am PST) as we explore how this chronic pain cycle can be reversed. I look forward to sharing more about various music therapy goals, interventions and research regarding pain management and please feel free to bring your own personal stories and ideas so that the course is relevant to your own particular context.

To Register

 Check out Joel’s services & unique bio here:


The following modules are also available for self-study online:

Music Therapy in Special Education

Archetypal Music Psychotherapy:  A Depth Approach to Expressive Creative Arts

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