Will Counseling Change My Music Preferences?

Reader’s Question

I have a question. I really, really, enjoy this one band… I can relate to a lot of the lyrics (the songwriter has bipolar disorder), and it just amazes me how I relate to the songs.

If I go through therapy/counseling…Will my music preference change? Will I stop loving the band I listen to constantly, because I will be “happy” after therapy/counseling? It may seem like an odd question, but I am being serious.

Psychologist’s Reply

This is a very valid question. We enjoy certain bands or types of music for a variety of reasons. Some songs/bands reflect a time in our lives — such as music of our high school or college years. Some songs/bands are linked by memory to relationships, locations, jobs, etc. When we relate to the lyrics of a song or band, we have created an Emotional Memory — a combination of details about the music and our feelings at the time. This aspect of music and memory is very powerful. Middle-age people can listen to their high school era bands and songs and actually feel young again (although a bit slower!).

Therapy will not change your interest in that specific band because you have emotional history with the group and the songs. While treatment may change your mood and attitude for current music, you will always have fond memories connected to that band and their songs. You may find that you listen to new music as well as the old tunes.

Music is an emotional and memory time machine that can instantly transport us to another time. Dick Clark (of American Bandstand in the US) said that music is the soundtrack of our lives. That band will always be part of your soundtrack — evidence of where you were socially and emotionally at that time. You’ll need to be aware that the emotions that are connected with the band can be very negative and for that reason, listen to the band with a sense of history — a view of “emotionally, that’s where I was at that time”. You can experiement with those memories by reading my article on Emotional Memory (on this website).

While I still enjoy and carry the music of Crosby Stills and Nash and the Beatles in my automobile, I’m aware that I’m not 17 anymore.

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