4 Ways Music Therapy Benefits Highly Sensitive People

You didn’t know you needed a good cry until you heard that new Lizzy McAlpine song, and all of a sudden the tears are flowing. Something in the poignancy of the melody and poetry of the lyrics hit a chord and you feel sad but also seen. Understood. Like you’re maybe not so alone after all. You let out a big exhale for the first time all week.

Highly sensitive people (HSPs) are exquisitely attuned to the world around them, which can mean deepened empathy and heightened appreciation for nature, art and music. It can also mean overwhelm, increased susceptibility to stress and anxiety and difficulty setting and maintaining boundaries.

Music therapy in Philadelphia offers a soothing balm and empowering boost to the highly sensitive nervous system. HSPs often find that music can serve as a sanctuary—a source of comfort and expression amidst the intensity of daily life. 

So what can music therapy do?

You likely already have a relationship with music. Favorite songs, perhaps some playlists that help you get your day started and wind down in the evening. Within the context of a trusting and supportive therapeutic relationship with a music therapist in Philadelphia, you can go even deeper and harness the power of music to address a variety of struggles common for HSPs, including:

Working with “big” emotions

Music has the ability to both evoke and regulate emotions. So whether you feel emotionally flooded or emotionally blocked, bringing music into the context of therapy can just as much help you connect with your emotional world as it can help you contain emotions that feel overwhelming and “too much.” One thing I often point out is that songs have a beginning, middle and end. They can help us “dip our toe” into processing something challenging. 

Reducing stress

The soothing sounds of music can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels. Sometimes I will guide clients through relaxation exercises and mindfulness practices while softly strumming on the guitar, or invite them to hum a simple melodic line with me to further stimulate the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system. Or we might lean into the inherently regulating element of rhythm to regain a sense of control and safety by tapping a familiar pattern on our knees (added bonus: alternating the tapping from right to left incorporates bilateral stimulation, one of the key components of EMDR). 


For HSPs who find it challenging to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, music becomes a powerful form of self-expression. No matter what your level of training or skill is (even if you have none!), a music therapist can guide you in learning to play an instrument, singing, or writing a song in an accessible and collaborative way. Music can be a particularly helpful modality for expressing emotions that HSPs often hold shame around, such as anger, for being told they are “too sensitive” or “too much.” 

Social connection and boundaries 

Co-regulation comes naturally when we make music with other humans. Whether you’re exploring music with your therapist or participating in a group music-making experience, playing/singing/listening with others offers a supportive and enlivening environment where HSPs can enhance their sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation. Music can also help us explore what boundaries feel, look and sound like and empower you to more clearly and confidently ask for what you need.

By leveraging the therapeutic benefits of music, HSPs can enhance their emotional regulation, reduce stress, express themselves authentically, and foster meaningful connections. Interested in the possibility of integrating music therapy into your journey of healing and self discovery? Schedule a free consultation with Rachel today to see if music therapy in Philadelphia might be a good fit for you. 

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