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Music therapy

Music therapy is the use of interventions to accomplish individual goals
within a therapeutic relationship by a professional who has completed an
approved music therapy program. Music therapy is an allied health profession
and one of the expressive therapies, consisting of a process in which a music
therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social,
aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients improve their physical and mental health.
Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health in several domains,
such as cognitive functioning, motor skills, emotional development, social skills,
and quality of life, by using music experiences such as free improvisation,
singing, and listening to, discussing, and moving to music to achieve treatment
goals. It has a wide qualitative and quantitative research literature base and
incorporates clinical therapy, psychotherapy, biomusicology, musical acoustics,
music theory, psychoacoustics, embodied music cognition, aesthetics of music,
sensory integration, and comparative musicology. Referrals to music therapy
services may be made by other health care professionals such as physicians,
psychologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Clients can also
choose to pursue music therapy services without a referral (i.e., selfreferral).
Music therapists are found in nearly every area of the helping professions.
Some commonly found practices include developmental work (communication,
motor skills, etc.) with individuals with special needs, song writing and listening in
reminiscence/orientation work with the elderly, processing and relaxation work,
and rhythmic entrainment for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims. Music
therapy is also used in some medical hospitals, cancer centers, schools, alcohol
and drug recovery programs, psychiatric hospitals, and correctional facilities.

Music has been used as a healing implement for centuries. Apollo is the
ancient Greek god of music and of medicine. Aesculapius was said to cure
diseases of the mind by using song and music, and music therapy was used in
Egyptian temples. Plato said that music affected the emotions and could
influence the character of an individual. Aristotle taught that music affects the
soul and described music as a force that purified the emotions. Aulus Cornelius
Celsus advocated the sound of cymbals and running water for the treatment of
mental disorders. Music therapy was practiced in biblical times, when David
played the harp to rid King Saul of a bad spirit. As early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates
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Wan. Since up to 30 per cent of children with autism are nonverbal and many have difficulty understanding verbal commands music therapy becomes very useful as it has been found that music can improve the mapping of sounds to actions. & Schlaug (2010) found singing and music making may engage areas of the brain related to language abilities. Music therapy and children with autism Music therapy can be a particularly useful when working with children with autism due to the nonverbal. Arab hospitals contained music rooms for the benefit of the patients. Passing and sharing instruments. In the United States. Child-appropriate action songs Page 2 of 9 . especially melancholia. The Anatomy of Melancholy. Use of music therapy has demonstrated improvements of socially acceptable behaviors. Demaine. social. So by pairing music with actions. in which he discussed the therapeutic effects of music on the soul. symbolic communication and sharing of positive affect. Robert Burton wrote in the 17th century in his classic work. dealt with music therapy in his treatise Meanings of the Intellect. The Turco-Persian psychologist and music theorist al-Farabi (872–950). increase focus and attention. music and movement games. For example passing a ball back and forth to percussive music or playing sticks and cymbals with another person might help foster the child’s ability to follow directions when passing the ball and learn to share the cymbals and sticks. and that music facilitated the language. Studies have shown that children with autism have difficulty with joint attention. musicians would travel to hospitals and play music for soldiers suffering from war-related emotional and physical trauma. and motor skills. Native American medicine men often employed chants and dances as a method of healing patients. and improve body awareness and coordination. In addition to improved social behaviors music therapy has been shown to also increase communication attempts. In the thirteenth century. reduce anxiety. known as Alpharabius in Europe. particularly in the United Kingdom. and with many hours of training the neural pathways for speech can be improved. Norton. when. Music therapy as we know it began in the aftermath of World Wars I and II. nonthreatening nature of the medium. Zipse. that music and dance were critical in treating mental illness. Successful therapy involves long-term individual intervention tailored to each child’s needs. learning to listen and singing greetings and improvised stories are just a few ways music therapy can improve a child’s social interaction.played music for mental patients.

& Toy hand bells.would be like playing the game “peek-ka-boo” or “eeny meeny miney mo” with a musical accompaniment. Composing original music that incorporates the child’s day-to-day life with actions and words is also a part of improvisation. Weekly sessions ranging for ½ hour to 1 hour during which a therapist plays child-preferred melodies such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and engages the child in quiet singing increases socially acceptable behaviour such as using an appropriate volume when speaking. identify a range of emotions. Musical improvisation during a one on one session has also been shown to be highly effective with increasing joint attention. aggression and noisiness can also be affected by the use of music therapy. Finger cymbals. The visual and auditory sensory system is responsible for interpreting sounds and images. Some noted improvisation techniques are using a welcome song that includes the child’s name. Music therapy has also been recognized as a method for children with autism. Paddle drums. Short sessions (15 – 20 mins) of listening to percussive music or classical music with a steady rhythm have been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and temporarily decrease anxiety-related behaviour. Birdcalls. Whistles. Some common instruments in music therapy for children are:  Upright piano. Music therapy helps stabilize moods. an adult-led song followed by a child led song and then conclude with a goodbye song. Guitar. Xylophone. increase frustration tolerance. Egg shakers. and improve self-expression along with much more. Music with a steady 4/4 beat is thought to work best due to the predictability of the beat. Small guiro. usually a piano or guitar. which allows the child to get used to their surroundings. Children with autism are also prone to more bouts of anxiety than the average child. During such sessions the child would most likely sit across from the therapist on the floor or beside the therapist on the piano bench. With autistic children. if a sound or image is unpleasant the child Page 3 of 9 . Studies also suggest that playing one of the child’s favorite songs while the child and therapist both play the piano or strum chords on a guitar can increase a child’s ability to hold eye contact and share in an experience due to their enjoyment of the therapy. The shared music making experience allows for spontaneous interpersonal responses from the child and may motivate the child to increase positive social behaviour and initiate further interaction with the therapist. Target behaviours such as restlessness.

Now. Adolescents obtain many benefits from listening to music. Music also offers adolescents relatable messages that allow them to take comfort in knowing that others feel the same way they do. which means it is not critical to ‘think’ while listening to music when hearing the notes and sounds. Adolescents Mood disorders According to the Mayo Health Clinic. in the topic of austism’s sensory interpretation. which makes it difficult for a therapist. eight to ten will commit suicide. diligence. and spend more of their leisure time listening to music. which can help counteract or prevent depression. which in turn contributes to an adolescent's self-discovery and sense of identity. including emotional. American adolescents listen to approximately 4. music is a unifying force. Ethnomusicologist Alan Merriam (1964) once stated that music is a universal behavior – it is something with which everyone can identify. with the invention of new technologies such as the iPod and digital downloads. and out of those two to three thousand. Two prevalent mood disorders in the adolescent population are clinical depression and bipolar disorder. These programs also promote confidence and self-esteem. Music education programs provide adolescents with a safe place to express themselves and learn life skills such as self-discipline. and social groups together Page 4 of 9 .000 adolescents will have mood disorders. provides repetitive stimuli which aim to “teach” the brain other possible ways to respond that might be more useful as they grow older. along with help in forming their identity. an activity associated with friends. social. two to three thousand out of every 100. bringing people of different backgrounds. Music can improve an adolescent's mood by reducing stress and lowering anxiety levels. Among adolescents. an activity associated with family. parent. Music can provide a sense of independence and individuality. access to music has become easier than ever. to interpret. and patience. and daily life benefits. age groups. Music engages the brain in both sub-coritcal and neocortical levels.5 hours of music per day and are responsible for 70% of pop music sales.may not have the ability to express itself. It can also serve as a creative outlet to release or control emotions and find ways of coping with difficult situations. Music therapy. etc. On average. As children make the transition into adolescence they become less likely to sit and watch TV.

In a meta-analysis of the effects of music therapy for children and adolescents with psychopathology. To those unfamiliar with music therapy the idea may seem a little strange. When a music therapist gets a referral. Techniques can be classified as active vs. those choices can affect the outcome of the treatment. but music therapy has been found to be as effective as traditional forms of therapy. therapist. are used. Voracek. Treatment techniques There are many different music therapy techniques used with adolescents. Many adolescents go through a period of teenage angst characterized by intense feelings of strife that are caused by the development of their brains and bodies. Some adolescents develop more serious mood disorders such as major clinical depression and bipolar disorder. behavioral. Research also showed that improvisation and the use of other media were the two techniques most often used by the music therapists. receptive and improvisational vs. music skills. Adolescents diagnosed with a mood disorder may be referred to a music therapist by a physician. In the end. and incorporating creative media outlets into the therapy. social. Gold.Referrals and assessments While many adolescents may listen to music for its therapeutic qualities. The overall research showed that adolescents in music therapy “change more when discipline-specific music therapy techniques. he or she must first assess the patient and then create goals and objectives before beginning the actual therapy. communicative. and Wigram (2004) looked at ten studies conducted between 1970 and 1998 to examine the overall efficacy of Page 5 of 9 . and physiological functioning focusing on the client’s needs and strengths…and will also determine the client’s response to music. and musical preferences” The result of the assessment is used to create an individualized music therapy intervention plan. receptive listening to music.” The results of this study showed that music therapists should put careful thought into their choice of technique with each individual client. cognitive. structured. verbal discussion about the music. it does not mean every adolescent needs music therapy. The most common techniques in use with adolescents are musical improvisation. such as improvisation and verbal reflection of the music. The music therapy model is based on various theoretical backgrounds such as psychodynamic. the use of precomposed songs or music. and humanistic approaches. or school counselor/teacher. According to the American Music Therapy Association Standards of Clinical Practice assessments should include the “general categories of psychological.

Improvements in these areas can be measured by a number of tests. and confidence. Music therapy may also focus on improving quality of life and building therapy on children and adolescents with behavioral. non-judgmental environment. a sense self-worth. Making music is also important for people of all ages because it causes motivation. Symbolic Communication Training Through Musicis also an important technique in playing instruments in music therapy. and improvement in self-esteem can be effective in working with adolescents. including qualitative questionnaires like Beck’s Depression Inventory. and Relationship Change Scale. and developmental disorders. is that music provides a time cue for the body to remain regulated. Another important result was that “the effects of music therapy are more enduring when more sessions are provided. and improves breath support. Most importantly. and changes in awareness of mood. identify factors contributing to distress and initiate changes to alleviate that distress. Music Therapy in which clients play musical instruments directly.” More specifically. causes an individual to identify with a group (in group music). Effects of music therapy can also be observed in the patient’s demeanor. Group music therapy can include group discussions concerning moods and emotions in or toward music. and musical improvisation. body language. playing wind instruments strengthens oral and respiratory muscles. regulates breathing. emotional. because this makes communication (verbally and non verbally) improved in social situations. Page 6 of 9 . songwriting. Specifically. sound vocalization. Two main methods for music therapy are group meetings and one-one sessions. Group therapy. however. medium to large effect on clinically relevant outcomes. music therapy was most effective on subjects with mixed diagnoses. One-on-one music therapy provides a non-invasive. show very promising results. group cohesion. is not always the best choice for the client. and increases coordination. encouraging clients to show capacities that may be hidden in group situations. improves organizational skills. State and Trait Anxiety Inventory. Groups emphasizing mood recognition and awareness. The results of the meta-analysis found that “music therapy with these clients has a highly significant. increases "psychomotor" activity. Though more research needs to be done to ascertain the effect of music therapy on adolescents with mood disorders.” One example of clinical work is that done by music therapists who work with adolescents to increase their emotional and cognitive stability. Ongoing one-onone music therapy has also been shown to be effective. most research has shown positive effects. articulation.

general mental state. that these results can be inconsistent and that they depend heavily on both the quality and number of therapy sessions. speech issues. Depression Music therapy has been found to have numerous significant outcomes for patients with major depressive disorder. Another study showed that MDD patients were better able to express their emotional states while listening to sad music than while listening to no music or to happy. depression. Meta-studies have confirmed many of these results. A systematic review of five randomized trials found that people with depression generally accepted music therapy and was found to produce improvements in mood when compared to standard therapy. reduced social isolation. and even cognitive functioning. a phenomenon associated with positive affect and mood. which can assist therapists in successfully guiding treatment.Other studies have provided insight into the physiological interactions between music therapy and depression. A study also found that music led to a shift in frontal lobe activity (as measured by EEG) in depressed adolescents. and anhedonia and improved social symptoms such as increased conversation ability. mood and cognitive functioning. Music as stress reliever One of the great benefits of music as a stress reliever is that it can be used while you conduct your regular activities so that it really doesn’t take time Page 7 of 9 . leading to improved affect. The authors found that this therapy helped patients overcome verbal barriers to expressing emotion.Psychiatric disorders Schizophrenia Music therapy is used with schizophrenic patients to ameliorate many of the symptoms of the disorder. Music has been shown to decrease significantly the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. anxiety. or scary music. Improvements were seen in negative symptoms. and increased interest in external events. showing that music therapy in conjunction with standard care to be superior to standard care alone. Individual studies of patients undergoing music therapy showed diminished negative symptoms such as flattened affect. however. These meta-studies have also shown. Music was shown to shift activity from the right frontal lobe to the left. angry.

and more like you’re having some nice time to yourself.  Cleaning: Page 8 of 9 . cooking becomes a fun activity rather than a chore. It can also take your mind off of all that you need to get done once you reach your destination. music can also be a helper. Music provides a wonderful backdrop for your life so that you can find increased enjoyment from what you’re doing and also reduce stress from your day. but many people find themselves too tired to cook once they get home. Eating at home is a great way to ensure healthy meals and less expense. which can enable you to savor your dinner and your company as you eat. digest better. which can lower cortisol levels. and help you feel less like you’re wasting time in traffic. so you’ll arrive less stressed and more prepared to take on what awaits you.  While Eating: As you’re eating your meal. studies have shown that classical music in particular can help you eat less.  Cooking: Good nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.away from your busy schedule. and you’ll likely find yourself relaxed and in a better frame of mind once dinner starts. If you put on some smooth jazz or other genre of music that you enjoy. setting the tone for a lower-stress day.  During a Commute: Put an end to road rage by playing your favorite music in the car. and it can actually keep your stress level down . Also. making it easier to digest food. and start your day feeling great. It can relieve some of the tension you feel from the commute itself and the day so far. Soothing music can trigger the relaxation response . The following are some of the ways you can use music to enhance your regular activities:  Getting Ready in the Morning: You can wake yourself up with music. and enjoy your food more.

but cleaning itself is a chore that many busy people don’t have the energy to face after a long day. and getting enough sleep can help you handle stress better.  When Paying Bills: We all need to pay bills. and even come to look forward to doing the job. However. and make the task more enjoyable. stress can also interfere with sleep in several ways. Unfortunately. you may work more efficiently. organized home can really help to cut down on your stress level . and soothing your mind. but the job doesn’t always take a high degree of concentration. slowing down your breathing. hip-hop or pop. Playing music as you drift off is one way to counteract the effects of stress by taking your mind off of what’s stressing you. Page 9 of 9 . for example. you can raise your energy level and have fun as you clean. if you throw on some energetic music. Playing music while you write your checks can help take your mind off of financial stress you may be feeling.Keeping a simple.  Before Bed: Getting enough sleep is important for proper functioning. If you tell yourself that you only need to clean for a certain amount of songs and then you can be done.