Music therapy is an auxiliary therapeutic method at the junction of psychology, neurophysiology, and musicology, which uses sensory stimulation through music. The basis of this method is the beneficial effects of music on the psycho-emotional state of a person. Music therapy sessions are not aimed at music education. It is mainly used to improve cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills, and quality of life.
The introduction of music therapy is used in medical and social institutions, educational institutions, early development centers, adaptive development centers, rehabilitation programs, and correctional institutions. Music therapists often work as part of a group of specialists in various fields, participating in the formation of health programs.
Music has been used for centuries as a healing agent in many countries and cultures. Evidence of its use can be found among the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, medieval Arabs, Hindus, and Native American peoples. During the XVIII-XIX centuries, they published scattered articles, research paper, thesis statement, music therapy essay, books, experimental results, and medical practice reports describing the benefits of music therapy. The first scientific studies of the influence of music on humans appeared in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Music therapy, in such title as we know it now, was formed in the years after the end of the First and Second World War, when musicians visited hospitals for free to alleviate the suffering of veterans. And in 1944, the first intake of students for the specialty “music therapist” was opened at the University of Michigan.Order now
There are two forms of music therapy:
Passive music therapy is usually aimed at relaxing. At the same time, the patient can draw, meditate, or simply listen to musical works or topic selected by experts on the basis of his musical reactions. This technique can be combined with massage and aromatherapy; the result will be for mind and body.
Active music therapy is an active interaction with the musical material. This can be implemented by playing it – singing, playing an instrument, and performing movements to music – rhythmic exercises, dancing. In the course of such persuasive studies, motor abilities, coordination, imagination, and creative abilities are improved; through music and speech, patients can express their state and emotions.
In addition to those already mentioned, the following practices can also be used in therapy: improvisation, songwriting, discussion of musical works and vocal texts, musical games, symbolic drama, music essay, drumming, therapeutic performances. In most cases, music treatment methods are selected individually, and sometimes the sessions are held in groups.
The benefits of music therapy:
Listening to the right musical composition can reduce blood pressure, normalize emotional state, slow heartbeat, increase concentration, improve speaking skills, as well as music, can help memory work processes, reduce pain, resolve arguments and improve quality of life.
In general, the practice of using music therapy shows its effectiveness in the following areas:
- impact on the emotional state (mood), its stabilization;
- linguistic and psychosocial development (speech, communication);
- physiological reactions and processes (pain, blood pressure, breathing, etc.);
- physical rehabilitation and motor skills, problems;
- neurophysiological functioning.
Multiple areas of the cerebral cortex in both hemispheres, as well as subcortical regions of the brain, are responsible for the perception and reproduction of music. That is why the importance of music is so high in rehabilitation after strokes, head injuries, dementia, developmental delays, and mental disorders.
Music therapists help clients achieve goals in various non-musical areas, for example: develop social skills, learn to express emotions, increase self-confidence, develop fine motor skills, provide relaxation, endure loss, and develop a concentration of attention.
Medical research and practical experience confirm the effectiveness of music treatment when working with different groups of people. There are opinions that it is necessary to have musical skills to participate in music therapy sessions, but this is not true. People of completely different ages and any level of physical and mental development can take part in such therapy. Music therapy affects several areas of a person’s life in a positive and engaging way and has no disadvantages.
Music therapy facilitates rehabilitation for:
- for depression, stress, PTSD, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, eating disorders;
- developmental characteristics and associated learning difficulties and behavioral disorders;
- physical disability;
- mental illness (for example, some forms of schizophrenia, psychosis);
- age-related mental disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, memory loss;
- drug and alcohol addiction;
- cardiovascular diseases;
- neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease;
- traumatic brain injury;
- acute and chronic pain (for example, in the case of oncological diseases, after surgical interventions, even during childbirth!).
The form and content of music therapy are most often formed individually with the help of a specialist. For example, the music that patients loved in their youth helps to slow down the degradation of memory, cognitive functions, large motor skills, as well as reduce anxiety during senile dementia.
Scientific research on the effectiveness of music therapy is conducted around the world. According to the PubMed database of publications in medicine and biology, there are more than 4.5 thousand in the USA alone, and it is a good result.
In conclusion, the main advantages of music therapy are its low cost, as well as the obvious non-invasiveness (lack of physical intervention). Long-term practice proves its effectiveness and positive impact on the human psyche. Sometimes music therapy helps even in situations where other therapeutic methods do not help. Despite the proven benefits, we should not forget that music therapy is not an independent, but an additional therapeutic.