Benefits of Music Therapy

Let’s be honest here. The soothing power of music cannot be underestimated whatsoever. However, the concrete idea of adopting the use of music as therapy has only been around since the early 1900s. This kind of therapy has been proven to provide mental, emotional and physical healing to many individuals suffering from various ailments.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the clinical use of music to improve the well-being of patients suffering from physical and psychological ailments. It is an evidence-based treatment regimen that employs musical interventions. Music therapy is distinguished from ”Musopathy,” which relies on a more generic and non-cultural approach based on neural, physical and other responses to fundamental aspects of sound. According to musictherapy.org, “Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.”

History of Music Therapy

The modern use of music as therapy was largely adopted during World War II. It was during this historical war that community musicians volunteered to play for the wounded soldiers in hospitals and the veterans. Both the nurses and patients experienced a huge difference in mood as well as a positive emotional and physical response to music. This reaction prompted the doctors to propose the hiring of musicians to play for the soldiers.
Currently, music is still being used to help out people suffering from various ailments. And yes, music therapy can be personalized from patient to patient as different patients respond differently to this therapy. For instance, one child might enjoy writing a song or learning to play an instrument, whereas another child might enjoy simply listening to music.

Benefits of Music Therapy

Here are some of the health benefits that result from music therapy:

Fight Depression

Recent research carried out on several depression patients revealed that music therapy can also come in handy when fighting depression. The participants of the research who received music therapy reported a significant decrease in depressive symptoms compared to patients who didn’t get the therapy.

With that being said, music therapy can help individuals to finally realize that they are unique in their own special way. Furthermore, patients tend to forget their worries and experience positive emotions while listening to music. Let’s not forget that movement and playing music go hand in hand and studies have revealed that movement can help fight depression and anxiety.

Treat Autism

Music therapy has shown positive results in autistic patients. According to the Autism Society of America, autism spectrum disorder affects about 1% of the world’s population. They also add that autism is often noticed within the first 3 years of our lives. This complex disability can affect the development of our verbal, social, and cognitive abilities.

In most music therapy sessions, patients (mostly children) are often encouraged to sing. In order to sing effectively, the patient must be able to memorize some of the words in the song. This is because the singing will demand that the words are pronounced appropriately and on time. By learning this, real-life communication is improved. In short, music therapy can help people with speech and cognitive disabilities to finally learn how to verbally communicate better.

Relieve Anxiety and Stress

Music therapy reduces anxiety in patients with high stress levels. According to researchers, stress might be the main contributing factor to the increased suicide rate in the United States. In The New Music Therapist’s Handbook by Suzanne B. Hanser, she reveals that psychosocial stressors can contribute to the development of dangerous physical ailments such as ulcers, skin disorders, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and headache. But thanks to music therapy, some of these life-threatening ailments can be kept at bay. In this case, the patient is expected to listen to soothing music for an hour every day. This routine should continue for at least two weeks.

In addition, music therapy has been used for quite some time now by medical professionals to provide natural stress and anxiety relief during important medical procedures such as surgery, mammograms or blood tests, and chemotherapy. The general belief among professionals is that patients experience a reduction in stress during such critical procedures.

Pain Reduction

Music, it turns out, is also very helpful in altering our perception of pain. Music can soothe, relax, inspire, energize, as well as provide the much needed calming distraction from pain. According to some recent research, music can also help effectively manage pain in those living with chronic pain. Soothing music coupled with relaxation techniques can help patients with chronic pain to relax automatically and subconsciously. In some reported cases, the patients end up requiring less pain medication.

Boosts Movement Recovery

One of the main benefits of music therapy is actually its ability to boost movement recovery after stroke. For better results, patients should combine routine rehabilitation procedures with rhythmic music according to a study conducted by The New York Academy of Sciences.

The study further adds that music therapy can lead to improved motor cortex activation. The motor cortex is part of the brain’s cerebral cortex responsible for originating nerve impulses that activate voluntary muscular activity. Overall, music therapy greatly improves movement recovery.

Enhance Brain Development

Music therapy can help make you smarter and help enhance overall brain development. A recent study by the Journal of Neuroscience revealed that learning to play a musical instrument before age 7 can change how the brain develops. This is due to the enhanced ability to integrate and interpret sensory information, like hearing, seeing, and touching.

Another study conducted by Brown University revealed that music therapy can help build grey matter. This is a tissue in the spinal cord and the brain that help process all information in the brain. All in all, music therapy can help enhance emotional as well as intellectual abilities of your child. Plus, just imagine your child as the lead drummer or guitarist in his/her school’s musical group? Super cool, right?

Improve Self Expression

If you know of any other form of art that helps to effectively bring out our imagination and creativity, please let us know. Moving on, recent studies have revealed that individuals who came into contact with technology (smartphones, tablets, video games, etc.) at a tender age have problems expressing themselves.

Here’s the thing, music can help individuals express themselves better since most people find it easier to express themselves through various art forms, specifically, music. This can be very helpful when trying to express our frustrations or desires because failure to do so can lead to anger, depression, stress, and becoming socially isolated.

Cancer

It is no secret that cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in the current generation. But let’s be clear, music therapy cannot treat or prevent cancer itself. That aside, studies reveal that music therapy, when used with anti-nausea medicines, may help relieve vomiting and nausea caused by chemotherapy, but further research is still ongoing.

However, there is enough evidence to demonstrate that music therapy can help reduce pain, stress and anxiety in cancer patients. In short, music therapy can help cancer patients to properly deal with their emotions and it has shown notable improvements in pain management for cancer patients.

The Takeaways

According to Psychology Today, any form of music has therapeutic effects, although the most effective ones are those from your own culture. Also, keep in mind that this type of therapy does not have any musical goals involved. In most cases, the patient doesn’t sing or compose songs with the aim of a stage performance or money. It is the assessment process that will determine the goals that have been achieved. But to get the best result out of your therapy, you should opt for a fully certified music therapist.

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