There are all sorts of therapies out there. There is no real way to lay value on any one method or claim that one works better than the other as it is up to the individual to decide what works best. There are now more innovative therapies than ever before and music therapy is one of them. Music therapy is a fairly old therapy and it has many advantages. First, let’s take a look at what music therapy is all about.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is any therapy in which music is used as method of calming, rehabilitation, or both. In cases where music therapy is used, patients may listen to music in conjunction with other therapy methods in order to create a relationship between the feeling of calm that they experience and the music that is being played. This can also be therapy in which the patient actually plays music. In any case, this type of therapy works to use music as a tool to help calm and rehabilitate. This type of therapy is especially helpful in those individuals that lack communication skills and in children that have been through traumatic experiences.
How Does Music Therapy Work?
Music therapy can take many different forms but there are four specific forms that you may run into when either using music therapy or learning about it. The first and most common form of music therapy is relational or associative music therapy. This means using a song, specific set of songs, or genre of music in particular as a method of calming someone down. This works especially well with children that suffer from autism and other social anxiety disorders. In this case, a therapist would try to create a connection between a song or style of music and a feeling of being safe and happy. In cases where that child was upset or distraught, the parent or caretaker could then use the music to help calm the child down and get them back to a state of calm.
Another form of music therapy is music therapy that is used to help rehabilitate those with brain injuries or other injuries. In this case, a therapist might choose a song and then teach the patient parts of the song to help with recall and memorization. This in turn would then help the patient begin to regain capacity and ability to function which is incredibly beneficial. This type of therapy is also great with those children that have learning disabilities and that may not be able to grasp concepts as quickly as others. This can also relate directly to those individuals that have neurological disorders like stroke and dementia as well as amnesia.
Another type of music therapy is often used in patients with mental illness. This is cases like those that suffer from schizophrenia and other illnesses. In this sort of case, music can be used to keep a person calm, to help them focus, and to help them regain control if they feel like they are slipping. Though this should not be used in place of other therapies and proper medication, it can help those with mental disorders and those that are caring for people with mental disorders better keep the ill effects under control.
The last type of music therapy you may run into is music therapy to help deal with mood disorders. This type of therapy is used to help even out mood swings. Those with disorders like depression may associate a song or type of music with happiness and it can help them sort out feelings of intense depression. Those that suffer from frequent mood swings may use music as a way to even out moods and calm themselves. Lastly, those that suffer from mood disorders where they have trouble discerning or figuring out moods may use this type of therapy to get their moods evened out and to experience emotion as they should. This type of therapy is very beneficial in children and adults alike that suffer from mood disorders.
Who Can Offer Music Therapy?
There are a very few that are trained to offer legitimate and sanctioned music therapy In order to offer music therapy, a therapist must have completed a music therapy program. In this program therapists will learn both about therapy that is common and practices that are approves as well as learn about music. In this type of degree or certification the therapist will be required to learn both about human psychology and about music itself.
The main goal of this type of therapy is to use music, and all its facets, to help patients get to a better place in life. Those that are trained to offer music therapy are often musicians themselves and therefore they understand the power that music has over the individual. Music therapists may use techniques like free improvisation, listening, discussing, moving to music, and even singing to evoke emotion and response from their patients. Though this type of therapy may seem somewhat silly and strange, music has the power to really lift spirits and change the way that people look at the world.
Those that offer music therapy will also have the ability and desire to relate emotions that are in the music to the emotions of patients. This type of therapy is especially helpful in children as it lacks some of the typical structure that you might see in other therapy types. This is also very helpful in those individuals that have a hard time expressing themselves in terms that are readily relatable.
Methods of Treatment With Music Therapy/ Music Therapy Activities
The first and most common method used with musical therapy is improvisation. This means allowing the child or adult to listen to music or create music as they see fit. This allows the therapist to gauge where the person is in their feelings and to really see what is going on in their heads. The next type of therapy you may run into is receptive listening. This means listening to a song or type of music then talking about how it makes you feel, what you think about it, and what you thought about as you listened to it. This again allows the therapist to really get a sense for the person that they are working with.
Still another method you may see is dancing. This helps to lower inhibitions and really allows the patient to loosen up. This may not offer the therapist much in the way of actual information about the patient or the state of mind of the patient but it does allow for the two to get to know one another. The last method you may run into is singing or association and memorization. This is often used with those that have brain damage and need to improve their memorization or brain function. This can also be used in children that have a hard time relating their feelings. Ultimately, it depends on both the child or adult and the therapist what method is used.
Who Benefits from Music Therapy?
There is no tried and true method to determine who can benefit most from music therapy, there are however ways that you can learn about he illnesses and disorders that are commonly treated using music therapy. There are a wide range of things that can be treated using music therapy, mood disorders are one of them. Anyone can suffer from a mood disorder, these can be linked to brain function, to hormones, to age, to gender, to genetic mutations, and to just about any other circumstance or issue that you could ever imagine. That being said, there is no real way to peg down someone that has a mood disorder. This means that any person that is suffering from a mood disorder can benefit from music therapy. This is an uplifting therapy method that is worlds away from the boring couch and notebook act that everyone expects. Music therapy is often used for autism and other neurologic disorders.
Children are another group that traditionally benefit immensely from music therapy. Though it may seem like the tried and true methods are the best, children often do not respond well to typical therapy sessions. Though it may seem like talking it out is the only way to deal with issues, music therapy can help open up children that were never very responsive before. Children with autism and social disorders respond especially well to music therapy as it is a different level of understanding that does not require words or specific communication that they may not be able to master. Those children that cannot speak or cannot relate what they are thinking and feeling respond especially well to music therapy as a whole.
People with mental illness, much like children, respond exceptionally well to music therapy. Those that suffer from disorders like dementia, amnesia, schizophrenia, and more are often better equipped to relate to and understand music than other therapy methods. Music is a non invasive therapy method that allows the patient to just relax and be themselves rather than worry about what someone is going to think of them if they say the wrong thing.
Lastly, those that have suffered or are suffering from neurological disorders or damage also stand to benefit from music therapy. Even when the brain loses the ability to speak and function as it might in the average person, the ability to hear and enjoy music still exists. On a very basic level music is part of the everyday life of all humans. As such, even those that have suffered from extensive brain damage can still listen to and enjoy music making it very beneficial for those with brain damage, brain trauma, and stroke damage to undergo music therapy. Music therapy as a whole is a very varied therapy that can work across the board for all sorts of individuals that need help.
Should I Use Music Therapy?
Ultimately, it is up to the individual if they use music therapy or not. It may seem like music therapy is the best approach then you can take a few sessions and decide that it does nothing for you. The only real way to decide if music therapy is right for you or not is to take a few sessions and see what happens. There has not been extensive research done in this field but there have been some studies done that conclude that music therapy actually does help those that partake in it. As with any non traditional therapy, it is always best to take a moment to really see what works for you. There are some music therapy statistics but not enough to decide if it is beneficial for everyone.
In most cases, you can learn a lot from a little bit of research and there are plenty of stories out there that outline the success of music therapy patients. Basically, this type of therapy may or may not work depending on the receptiveness of the patient and the diligence of the doctor.