Everything You Need to Know About Music Therapy

The fundamentals of music therapy.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy involves the use of music to achieve personalized objectives like improved mood or stress reduction. An evidence-based treatment, music-therapy is well-established within the health community. The therapy may involve singing, composing music, or the use of musical instruments. Musical talents or skills are not a prerequisite for participation.

Music therapy can have physical, psychological, cognitive, social, and even spiritual benefits. A few of these benefits are:

  • Improved memory
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Self-reflection (observation of your own thoughts and emotions)
  • Enhanced social skills and communication through group therapy
  • Self-regulation (developing healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with negative emotions and thoughts)
  • Reduction in muscle stiffness and tension
  • Pain management
  • Increased motivation
  • Increased happiness and joy

Formally, music therapy was used for the first time in 1945 by the United States Department of War. The therapy was used to treat military members in Army hospitals, in conjunction with education, occupational therapy, physical reconditioning, and recreation.

Who do Music Therapists Work With?

Everyone, regardless of age, culture, or background, can respond to music and, therefore, music therapy. Notable patient groups include:

  • Military service veterans and members
  • People with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
  • People with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Individuals in correctional settings
  • Victims of crises and traumas
  • People with physical illnesses
  • People with mental health problems
  • Substance abusers
  • Individuals with chronic pain

What Happens During Music Therapy?

During a music therapy session, you and/or your therapist may perform one or more of the following:

  • Listen to music
  • Sing music
  • Create music
  • Discuss lyrics
  • Move to music
  • Play musical instruments

Where is Music Therapy Conducted?

The most common settings for music therapy include nursing homes, hospitals, schools, mental health centers, outpatient clinics, and residences for people with developmental disabilities. Therapists also often visit schools, juvenile detention centers, and private practices.

Is Music Therapy Inpatient or Outpatient?

Whether the therapy is delivered inpatient or outpatient depends upon the specific program. You may come in for a few sessions during the day (much like counselling appointments) or a therapist could come to you while you are admitted in a school or hospital. Sometimes, music therapy sessions are conducted in groups.

Do Music Therapists Work with Children?

Yes, music therapists often work with children for issues like:

  • Anxiety and mood disorders
  • Behavioral disorders
  • Trauma
  • ASD
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)

Wrapping Up

To sum up, there is plenty of evidence supporting the therapeutic use of music. Music therapy, over time, can positively impact many areas of life, ranging from physical and psychological, to emotional, social, and spiritual. It is important that you stay in touch with your therapist between sessions so that you are on the same page with regards to goals, symptoms, and scheduling appointments.

To learn more about the therapeutic effects of music, please feel free to check out some of the other blogs on our website.