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Healing & Music

Please turn on your speakers as I invite you to watch the video below. This video may help you relax, and scientific studies show that any time the body relaxes, the effect stress has on various systems decreases, allowing the body to enter a so called "healing mode". This is helpful, since research studies show one of the ways stress effects our bodies (mostly chronic, persistent stress) is that it decreases the normal functioning of the immune system by various ways. Also, stress may contribute to overeating, bring on or intensify pain, and may add to the already present psychological confusion or other ongoing emotional/mental conditions. Any way you are able to reduce the effects of stress (praying, breathing, exercise, walking, listening to certain types of music as below, writing, and others) are beneficial to help your body get a chance to "catch up", rest, and perhaps achieve a balanced state of wellness.

Some people say, they get very good results and find themselves relaxing even more, by listening to the music with their eyes closed. Again, the goal of relaxing, is to allow your body to catch up and restore energy. When you open your eyes, you will find yourself totally relaxed, and you will be wide awake and fully energized, with perhaps even some general improvement in your well-being. (Music by Secret Garden)

NOTE Though this exercise is safe and very good for the body, on some people with various conditions, the music may act in a different way.
Do NOT do this exercize if you suffer seizures, have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, psychosis or any other mental health condition. Should you decide to do this exercise, you are doing this at your own risk. Consult your physician first!

MUSIC: A Spiritual Creation

Music is a phenomenon that flows timelessly throughout generations and washes upon the shore of every nation. Although communities throughout the world may differ in their notion of “music,” some type of musical activity has been recognized in nearly every society. Our knowledge of the past also leads us to conclude that some form of music existed even in the earliest of civilizations. In examining historical literature and religious records, as well as modern writings, one may find that music is rooted within many different contexts. Musical activity has been commonly found within the settings of work, performance, societal celebrations, religion, and enjoyment. In the particular framework of religion, music takes numerous forms. Though different groups of people may have dissimilar perceptions of the creation of music and its purposes, very few deny the inexplicable power of music on humanity. In accordance with Scriptures in the Holy Bible, the underlying motivation for music in any circumstance is to give God glory. From the Old Testament book of Genesis to the book of Revelation in the New Testament, insight is given to the reader on how to live an abundant life (John 10: 10). Within the intricate mosaic of spiritual wisdom that the Bible offers, one may find that music is a common thread in the practices of healing and therapy, preparation and departure for battle, and earthly as well as heavenly worship.

Several of the therapeutic purposes of music that are practiced as music therapy today have historical significance found in the Bible. In order to draw a parallel from these musical customs to modern-day therapy, one must have an adequate understanding of music therapy as defined by today’s society. “A Career in Music Therapy,” a brochure published in 1980 by the National Association for Music Therapy states, “Music therapy is the use of music in the accomplishment of therapeutic aims: the restoration, maintenance, and improvement of mental and physical health” (Davis, Gfeller, and Thaut 7). Even though the career field of music therapy is relatively new, music as a healing agent was renowned among people of past civilizations (Assagioli 97). One of the greatest examples of the therapeutic powers of music mentioned in the Bible resides within the story of King David. At the time David was chosen and anointed by God, Saul reigned as king. The Spirit of the Lord left Saul, and he became troubled by an evil spirit from God. When this happened, Saul’s servant began to search for a skillful harpist to play so that his health may be restored. David, son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, was brought to Saul, for he was an adroit player, and the Lord was with him (I Sam. 16: 11-18). According to I Samuel 16: 23, “it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” Saul was ‘refreshed’ by the beautiful melodies flowing from the harp’s strings. In his essay, “Music: Cause of Disease and Healing Agent,” Dr. Roberto Assagioli brings light to this aspect of music. He writes, “Music can indeed be a powerful healing agent. There are many and diverse ways in which it can and does exercise a beneficent influence on both body and mind. First of all, its effect can be wonderfully restful and refreshing” (102).

Another prevalent use of music as therapy is during times of distress. Throughout the Psalms we see that calling out to God through song often accompanied man in distress. The Bible commentary, “Psalms: Title and Background,” in Zondervan’s New International Version of the Holy Bible states, “The names ‘Psalms’ and “Psalter’ come from the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). Both originally referred to stringed instruments (e.g., harp, lyre, lute), then to songs sung with their accompaniment” (610). From among the Psalms come praises and prayer songs to the Creator. In Psalm 142, David writes, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication…. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low.…Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name” (v. 1, 6, and 7). David’s cry in a time of desperation combined with music created a worthy request to the Lord. In this case, as in many, God was the Therapist. We find in the later Psalms that David experienced freedom from anxiety due to God’s healing. For example, Psalm 147: 3 and 7 read, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds….Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God.”

Yet another aspect of music in the Bible that may be considered therapeutic is the creation of ensembles to give the body of believers unity. In numerous modern situations it is the goal of the music therapist to build a sense of unity among a group. The group with which a music therapist may work might range from people with developmental disorders to a group of school children with the need to gain an awareness of cooperation. Harmony within the church is an established theme throughout the Bible and is often expressed in the context of musical worship, especially in the Psalms. Psalm 133 mentions a type of unity among the brethren like precious oil. King David’s formation of instrumental ensembles as mentioned in I Chronicles 23: 5-6 is another instance of bringing men and women of faith into one accord through musical worship. The apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 14: 26, “How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” As Paul speaks about orderly worship he makes clear that, while the primary purpose is to glorify the Lord, singing psalms and the other acts of worship described should be also for the edification and strengthening of the church as a body. In the dedication service for the dwelling place of the ark of the covenant as told in II Chronicles 5: 11-14, one hundred and twenty priests sounded trumpets and as the singers lifted their voices to the Lord, together they made one sound (Hughes 68). This unification among the believers was an important step to be taken so that the goal of giving the Lord the highest praise could be accomplished.

Furthermore, an important use of musical instruments in the Old and New Testaments is during physical and spiritual battles. Certain types of music, both vocal and instrumental, tend to posses an intensity that awakens the determination for action (Assagioli 103). The sounding of the shophar or “rams’ horn,” also called “trumpet,” falls into this category consistently throughout the Bible (Easton A call to action is commanded whenever the trumpet is mentioned. The trumpet is used to signal various different actions such as praise (Psalm 150: 3), fasting (Joel 2: 15), preparation for battle (Ezek. 7: 14), going into battle (Jere. 4: 19), and God’s judgment (Rev. 8: 13). The sound of the trumpet is often a warning to God’s people and/or their enemies (Ezek. 33: 3 and 5). Scripture frequently describes God’s voice as the sound of a mighty trumpet (Rev. 4: 1). Another traditional use of the trumpet is to elicit reverence and fear of the Lord (Joel 2: 1). Most of the scriptures containing information about the trumpet relate to physical or spiritual battles.

As Paul gives the people of Corinth instructions for the church, he alludes to the common use of the trumpet as a call to prepare for physical battle. “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle” (I Cor. 14: 8)? The trumpet was similarly used as a signal during war. In the account of the fall of Jericho, the trumpet played a vital role. The Lord gave Joshua, the leader of the Children of Israel, very specific instructions for each battle move. He was told to march around the city once a day for six days. Seven priests were to bear rams’ horn trumpets, so that on the seventh day, after God’s people marched around the city walls seven times, the walls would crumble to the ground. A specific word of instruction was given to the Israelites not to make any noise with their voices until due time. On the seventh day the people rose at dawn to take the city. When the priests sounded the trumpets, Joshua told the Israelites to shout, because God had given them the city. As the shouting turned to a roar, the city walls fell (Josh. 6). In this instance the blowing of the trumpet was also a signal that God used to show His power to the people of Israel.

In conjunction with the physical battles described, various musical instruments were played in the spiritual battles of the Bible. Isaiah 30:31-32 reads, “For through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod. And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: And in battles of shaking will he fight with it.” The “tabret” is a percussion drum-like instrument also called “timbrel” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). In this passage we see that the drums and the harp were used to call out to God in intersession for the nation of Israel in her struggle against the enemy nation of Assyria. The Israelites’ intense battle was not a physical war with swords and armor, but a spiritual war in which their passionate rhythms of worship combined with the zeal of their hearts smote the powerful enemy (Hughes 110).

A second example of music in spiritual combat is found in Revelation. A recurrent theme throughout Revelation is the fight of good against evil; however, it is made known that the Good One claimed the battle victory before the foundations of the earth were laid. As one reads the verses of the book of Revelation, it is essential to keep in mind that the scriptures throughout the Bible prophesy Jesus Christ as the battle Champion. In Revelation 9: 13-15, John of Patmos writes that he heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which was before God, and a sixth angel sounded a trumpet. In verse 16, he begins to describe the army of horsemen he saw in the vision. As in previous examples mentioned, the horns and trumpets are used as signals or battle cries with the ultimate purpose being to exalt God in the spiritual war.

Underlying and overriding all the other musical purposes described in the Bible is worship on earth and in the heavenly realms. Music in any form observed in the Bible has one true motivation: to glorify God. Even though biblical music often has specific functions for purposes such as healing and battle, worship and praise to the Creator is always a counterpart. King David committed his life to worshipping the Lord. Though he was a king, a prophet, a priest, and the authority over Israel, he was foremost a worshipper after God’s own heart (Hughes 30-31). Psalm 119: 164 tells us that David praised the Lord “seven times a day” for His “righteous judgments.” The variety of expressions in the Psalms tell us that the Psalmist worshipped in times of joy and rejoicing as well as times of grief, distress, and sorrow. After David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, he sang out to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me….Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.…The sacrifices of God are a broken Spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51: 10, 12 and 17). Praise to God as described in the Psalms is not based upon conditions of the heart nor on emotions. Many times one may tend to think that praise only occurs when something spectacular, fantastic, and joyful happens; however, the Psalms give insights that the most heartfelt and poignant praises often come from a broken heart.

David understood the necessity to worship God at all times and in all situations, and he brought forth the use of musical instruments in the temple of the Lord. David created musical ensembles to praise God in His temple. I Chronicles 23: 5-6 reveals that over four thousand worshipped the Lord with the instruments that David made. It also mentions that David divided them into “courses,” or groups. Later in chapter 25, a group of singers is described whose main ministry is prophesy combined with music. Their prophesy was accompanied by harp, lyres, and cymbals.

A more enchanting and awe-inspiring kind of worship portrayed in the Bible is that of angels in heaven. Mention is made throughout the Bible of the “heavenly host.” This term describes the multitudes of angels that make up heavenly armies. Psalm 148: 2 and 4 say, “Praise ye him, all his angels; Praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.” The verses of Psalm 148 describe who or what is praising God, and Psalms 149 and 150 give instructions on how to praise Him. Worship with song, trumpet, harp, timbrel, organ, and stringed instruments is mentioned (Psalm 150). In reading Luke 2, we are brought back to the night of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. While a group of Shepherds are tending their flocks in a field nearby, an angel of the Lord came to them and brought them good news about the newborn King. Verse 13 reads, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men’” (Luke 2: 13-14). The power of this event is inexplicable, yet one may catch a glimpse of its beauty as angels welcomed to earth a King who altered history forever.

The Holy Bible is like a beautiful symphony overflowing with breathtaking musical moments. These bursts of musical harmony are seen amidst healing and therapy, physical and spiritual battles, and worship on earth and in the heavens. As David plays the role of music therapist for Saul, God becomes the ultimate Therapist, and His healing flows freely through the hearts of worshippers. The sound of the trumpet is revered as a signal for both earthly and spiritual battles, but its sound is also feared as the mighty voice of the Lord. The roots of worship infiltrate every aspect of life depicted in the Bible. Music during praise is such an integral part for both creatures of the earth and those in the heavenly realms. As the theme of music dances through the words that compose the very message of God, music appears to be a glorious, spiritual creation given to man for the intention of adoring his Creator.

credit: Lauren Caudle, FSU - ENC1122-02, 3 February 2003


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