Music therapy and its merits4 min read
Have you ever listened to a song that immediately took you back to a specific memory in your life? Have you experienced instant mood changes when listening to music? Do you believe that music has the ability to make a person feel happier, calmer or even just plain sad? Let us tell you, you’re not the only one! The power of music over the human mind, body and relationships can be so strong that music could actually be a form of therapy – and it is! Music therapy is evidence-based therapy and we’re here to tell you all about it.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy or sound therapy is used in clinical settings to support the therapy process. There are trained music therapists that use music to help the patient to improve and maintain their mental health. The aim is for the patient to achieve psychological and/or physiological results through music. Music therapy can also help an individual emotionally, spiritually and socially.
Music therapy can help with a number of disorders including depression, autism, substance abuse etc. It can also help in lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, improving/decoding memory and so on.
How does Music Therapy work?
Music therapy focuses on positive physiological behaviors which in turn helps in the psychological well-being of the patient. Positive physiological behaviors help to equip the patient to manage their pain and stress more effectively and confidently. They assist in providing a strong base for the management and control of emotional as well as intellectual issues.
There are five factors that are known to contribute to the working of music therapy. They include:
- Modulation of Attention: Music has the amazing ability to seize our attention and distract us from certain stimuli that could lead to negative experiences. Music can help reduce anxiety, worry, pain and so on when we are going through a difficult experience.
- Modulation of Behavior: Music can elicit certain behaviors like the movement patterns that are involved in walking and speaking.
- Modulation of Cognition: Music plays a huge role in various memory processes. It helps to store and decode different information and events that are related to musical experiences.
- Modulation of Communication: Since music is basically a means of communication, it can play a significant role in relationships. It gives people who are not verbal the chance to communicate with others without really using their words. It can also facilitate deeper relationships between people.
- Modulation of Emotion: Music has the ability to regulate the multiple activities in the brain that are linked with emotions. Music has the power to drastically intensify, divert or change people’s emotions.
What are some examples of Music Therapy Activities?
Although there are a number of activities that music therapists conduct, here are a few examples:
- Writing Songs and Lyrics: The music therapist might help the patient to write lyrics and songs related to some meaningful experience in the patient’s life.
- Movement and Dancing: This is when the therapist plays some music and the patient can move their body or dance to it.
- Relaxation: This is pretty simple; it is when the therapist plays a song and the patient is guided to a time and state of relaxation and deep breathing.
- Active Listening: The patient is encouraged to talk about their feelings, emotional reaction or the meaning and/or lyrics of a song that the therapist plays.
- Playing an Instrument: Music therapists could also encourage the patient to play an instrument like the piano, drums, guitar etc.
Who do Music Therapists work with?
Although music therapy can help people from different backgrounds, age groups and walks of life, music therapists are also known to specifically work with war veterans, people with ASD (autism spectrum disorder), Alzheimer’s disease, people who are physically ill, victims of trauma, substance abusers and those with chronic pain. Music therapists also work with children with various disorders or trauma.
What are the Benefits of Music Therapy?
Music therapy can benefit an individual psychologically, physically, socially, emotionally, cognitively and even spiritually.
It can help to call upon various emotions that are repressed and bottled-up and help them to be released. Music can also improve a person’s mood and help to reduce feelings of isolation. It helps to reduce anxiety and cope with depression. Music therapy can also help with stress management as well as self-expression.
Physically, music can affect blood pressure and change the heart rate of a person. It assists in the management of pain and helps to improve sleep. In terms of cognitive benefits, music therapy can help a person to feel an increased sense of control. It also helps with communication as well as to connect people. It can help with language skills, sensory development and emotional bonding.
The incredible power of music has been evident throughout human history. Music therapy has grown to become increasingly popular and various methods have been employed in its development and practice. Music therapy is practiced in a wide variety of settings and has proven helpful for a number of people.