What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy techniques include opportunities to listen and make music based on individualized goals and treatment objectives.
What is Music Therapy used for?
Music therapy is an effective treatment in encouraging weight gain and self-regulation in premature infants, reducing anxiety and pain related to surgical procedures, and helping individuals cope with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Children who are challenged by physical, emotional, and cognitive delays can benefit from music therapy by working towards increased physical strength and mobility, learning how to express their feelings in an effective way without hurting others, and by introducing music activities within their academic goals to increase memory and help problem solving. Finally, older adults suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and those who are frail from the effects of aging can benefit from music therapy in terms of reminiscing, moving and dancing to music for physical conditioning.
What should I expect when I go see a Music Therapist?
While music therapists work in a variety of settings, there is a basic format that can be expected regardless of where the therapy takes place.
Assessment (What are your needs?)
The purpose of an assessment is to find out what the patient’s specific needs and strengths are. This information is gathered by the therapist through a variety of methods. One method may involve the therapist talking with the patient to find out what is most important to him/her. Another method may include the therapist and patient making or listening to music together to determine what the patient can do and identify areas of need.
Plan (What are we going to do about it?)
After the assessment, the music therapist will create a plan that includes a series of goals and objectives. The goals and objectives are created from the assessment, including the patient’s desires. The assessment, goals and objectives will also help the therapist determine what types of music therapy techniques are going to work best with that particular individual.
After the therapist and patient begin working together, the music therapist will begin to collect information to decide whether or not the therapy is working. As the beginning goals and objectives are met, the patient and the music therapist may determine that the goals need to be altered to meet the patient’s changing needs and abilities.
How Music Affects Us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health-
Research has shown that music has a profound effect on your body and psyche. In fact, there’s a growing field of health care known as Music Therapy, which uses music to heal. Those who practice music therapy are finding a benefit in using music to help cancer patients, children with ADD, and others, and even hospitals are beginning to use music and music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, to ease muscle tension, and for many other benefits that music and music therapy can bring. This is not surprising, as music affects the body and mind in many powerful ways. The following are some of effects of music, which help to explain the effectiveness of music therapy:
Brain Waves: Research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state. Also, research has found that the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.
Breathing and Heart Rate: With alterations in brainwaves comes changes in other bodily functions. Those governed by the autonomic nervous system, such as breathing and heart rate can also be altered by the changes music can bring. This can mean slower breathing, slower heart rate, and an activation of the relaxation response, among other things. This is why music and music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress, greatly promoting not only relaxation, but health.
State of Mind: Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay. This can help prevent the stress response from wreaking havoc on the body, and can help keep creativity and optimism levels higher, bringing many other benefits.
Other Benefits: Music has also been found to bring many other benefits, such as lowering blood pressure (which can also reduce the risk of stroke and other health problems over time), boost immunity, ease muscle tension, and more. With so many benefits and such profound physical effects, it’s no surprise that so many are seeing music as an important tool to help the body in staying (or becoming) healthy
Is Music Therapy safe?
As with any type of therapy there are some risks, though they are extremely rare. It is possible that some individuals may experience a strong emotional reaction while listening or participating in music therapy interventions. It is common for people to become emotional and cry while listening to music, in fact, it is common. A music therapist is trained to help patients identify and cope with strong feelings. If the music therapist feels that additional help is needed, she/he may refer you a psychologist or psychiatrist for further evaluation.
Benefits of Music Therapy
Music therapy is a treatment method that involves using music to enhance health. There are many different approaches to music therapy, including creating music, listening to music, and talking about music. Although music therapy is often used to promote mental and emotional health, it may also help improve quality of life for people coping with physical health conditions.
What Does Music Therapy Involve?
A music therapy session may incorporate a number of different elements, such as making music, writing songs, or passively listening to music. While music therapists often aim to foster the patient's emotional expression, there can be many other different goals in a music therapy session. These goals include relief of stress or anxiety, improvement of mood, and enhancement of quality of life for people dealing with illness.
Research shows that patients do not need to have any musical ability to benefit from music therapy.
Here's a look at some key study findings on the health effects of music therapy:
Music Therapy and Depression
Music therapy may help some patients fight depression, according to a review published in 2008. Researchers sized up data from five previously published studies, four of which found that participants receiving music therapy were more likely to see a decrease in depression symptoms (compared to those who did not receive music therapy). According to the review's authors, patients appeared to experience the greatest benefits when therapists used theory-based therapeutic techniques, such as painting to music and improvised singing.
Music Therapy and Stress
Music therapy may help ease stress in pregnancy, according to a 2008 study of 236 healthy pregnant women. Compared to a control group, the 116 study members who received music therapy showed significantly greater reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression. The music therapy involved listening to a half-hour of soothing music twice daily for two weeks.
In a research review published in 2009, investigators found that listening to music may also benefit patients who experience severe stress and anxiety associated with having coronary heart disease. The review included two studies on patients treated by trained music therapists. Results showed that music listening had a beneficial effect on blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and pain in people with coronary heart disease.
Music Therapy and Autism
Music therapy may help improve communication skills in children with autistic spectrum disorder, according to a review published in 2006. However, the review's authors note that the included studies were of "limited applicability to clinical practice" and that "more research is needed to examine whether the effects of music therapy are enduring."
Music Therapy and Cancer
Research suggests that music therapy may offer a number of benefits for people coping with cancer. For instance, music therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety in patients receiving radiation therapy, as well as ease nausea and vomiting resulting from high-dose chemotherapy.