Music Therapy - Learn Guitar

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“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” - William Congreve

I’m trawling for various forms of therapy and was intrigued to learn that learning guitar can alleviate the symptoms of PTSD.

I pretty much need to listen to music to release my anxiety and anger, and I’ve always wanted to learn guitar - so this sounds like a great opportunity. I feel actually creating music would give a heightened element and focus my mind.

Because of my newbie status, I don't seem to be able to post links. But if you Google "PTSD" and "Guitar", there's a lot of information.

Does anyone do this? Does it help?


A long time ago I played violin. Actually, it put me through college. Playing an instrument is only what I can describe as an altered state of consciousness. It's easy to forget the world around you and become only the music.
Without really knowing it I've had PTSD to a greater or lesser degree (at this point greater degree) all my life. I'm pretty sure that playing an instrument helped me back then.

Nowadays? Art. sketching, painting and coloring in coloring books, I tend to find meditative.
Running and surfing allow me to completely turn of my brain. Which is nice.

Honestly, I think it's whatever brings you joy and focus. I wouldn't be too worried about whether someone has done research on it or not.

Does it bring you peace? Joy? Focus? Does it help quiet the symptoms?
Do it. It's helping.


I started teaching myself guitar as part of my recovery efforts...started almost 2 years ago. It does help, but it's certainly not a cure-all. It's helped me understand "process" better, and gives me a chance to connect with emotions in a different way. But sometimes it requires just straight-up self-discipline, which is sometimes in short supply these days, lol.

There are a lot of good YouTube videos, so you don't necessarily have to take lessons. Jamorama helped me a lot.


I play guitar for at least a couple of hours a day, even when I'm working & before my accident and diagnosis. It's hard to say if it's helped me in any massive way, but playing music is definitely therapeutic for me.

There have been a lot of times when I just couldn't learn anything & others when I couldn't even pick up the instrument. But mostly I found it just soothed me or distracted me from anxiety if I picked it up and just played around. Recently I've been able to learn properly again and I believe it is really helping me to open up emotional expression as I get deeper into songs and expressive techniques I'm working on.

By all means go for it, it's a good hobby. One word of caution from my experience though: learning new stuff can be hard & that's very fertile ground for any negative inner voices. Go easy on yourself when you're learning and don't set any targets - just do it for the simple pleasure and small steps of success.

If you want to chat about guitars, different styles, electric/acoustic, books, teachers, equipment etc, just drop me a line:)


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I tried learning guitar about sixteen years ago, my then boyfriend got me into it, it was really enjoyable and I'd recommend it. I wasn't so great at it but I did manage to do some levellers and corrs tunes and the Beatles yellow submarine! :shy:


I've not got the patience to learn to play a guitar, as much as I would like to. My latest way of relaxing is listening to talking books, an idea that my sister suggested.

The first one I tried, wasn't at all what I expected, but the one I took out from the library today is more my kind of thing.

I'm only hoping that these talking books can help control my mood swings, as I'm getting worried about them now, the are becoming more frequent, and lasting longer?

Pretty Hurts

my boyfriend began teaching himself to play the guitar a year or two ago and i think it's very helpful. when he plays, he's more relaxed, easy going....he really loves it. it seems to balance him, from my observation. it's actually something we've bonded over, because i always wanted to learn how to play, since i was a child. whenever he plays, i listen and he always ends up handing it to me and encouraging me to try. one day he brought one home for me and i was really excited. i play very little, i have to be in the mood so i can concentrate on the lesson, my fingers are so short, and i don't have calouses yet....but i like practicing, making my own noise...and it's nice to have another activity that is enjoyable and therapeutic for me.


There is lots of research to indicate that music or any other art form helps w/ PTSD. Hell, helps with everything. As long as you're not a perfectionist and don't expect to be Eric Clapton anytime soon, its all good.


If distraction helps, what could be better than what amounts to basically learning a language?
When I am playing and it is clicking, all else falls aside. There are so many things like this for me that require deep concentration with no room for negative thoughts to enter in, things like driving fast, running rapids in a boat, difficult design work in my job, things that require full attention and being in the moment. Playing guitar is like that if I really work at it, and one hell of a lot less dangerous and expensive with almost no negative results from mistakes
My advice is seek some advice on selecting a guitar capable of playing the music you like, don't cheap out. Good equipment bought used is worth what you paid for it now and later if you decide it's not for you. Even if you take a loss on it, a 2-300 dollar loss on a 2000 dollar instrument is the same as a total loss on a 2-300 dollar instrument, except you get to play on a 2000 dollar instrument and that can make all the difference when learning. Don't buy junk thinking you will get better and buy a better one later. Junk can be flat hard to play and never sound good (maybe, but rarely). Well made and maintained guitars cost more, especially when bought new, but poorly made guitars are often more expensive because they cost you being able to learn and achieve the skills you seek.
I can't stress this enough, get a good instrument, you will not be sorry.
Learn some chords. Learn to hear the differences between this chord and that chord so you can hear the patterns between chords when listening to other players. find songs you like, figure out the chords and go from there.
I have played for forty years and there are days that I just plain suck at it and I have to stop before I get to hating it. Don't let it ever be something you have to do, find a point in your progress where it starts to get fun and keep it there. The desire to learn something that is difficult is good, frustration at how hard it is is bad. Don't try to nail it at first, get close and have fun, try this and that and learn the patterns and how to listen to another player and guess at what is happening, what they are doing, even if all you can do is identify the chord and get maybe one note in ten right.
I am leary of bands, the most fun I have playing with other people or for other people has been when I started playing with friends in conjunction with a barbecue or before and after a football party or just me and a friend exchanging licks.
It is great when you can hear a song that strikes you in a good way, go to your guitar and amp collection and know what set up will get you close to the tone, play the song off of Rdio or Pandora or spotify and figure it out and play along. A great way to get out of your head for awhile.
I would be glad to offer more advice if you need it, have fun!


just a few more thoughts I wanted to add. I have been thinking about this post for awhile and I think learning an instrument is still great therapy and feel good about my advice, I guess i realised what a difference having a guitar has made in my life and have been more aware of it since I posted 6 weeks back.
I think we all need some way to get a mindset change. It is survival gear for us. being able to do something, go somewhere, talk to a person, pet a dog or a cat, drive a car, sit in a tub or take a shower or read a book or veg in front of a TV or split some wood or something-ANYTHING- that gets us out of the all too familiar thought spiral that is, for me, the worst part of PTSD. My guitar is a way for me to bring about a mindset change. It is survival gear.
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