What is Music Therapy & How Can it Help You?

What is Music Therapy & How Can it Help You?

What is Music Therapy?

“Music therapy is the use of music as a therapeutic tool for the restoration, maintenance, and improvement of psychological, mental, and physiological health and for the habilitation, rehabilitation, and maintenance of behavioral, developmental, physical, and social skills—all within the context of a client”, writes Edith Boxill, a professor and a music therapist (2007).Music therapy as a professional health care discipline was established in 1944 with the first training program opening at Michigan State University (Carroll, 2011). During those times, the need for music therapy was high due to the growth of mental asylums. Furthermore, WW II veterans returned home traumatized by the war (Carroll, 2011).

Using Music to Cure

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Nonetheless, using music as therapy is not a new practice. Prehistoric societies used music for healing. Anthropology data show music was used to communicate with spirits who can provide healing with their magical powers (Eckart Altenmüller, Finger & Boller, 2015). Comparatively, music was called “physic for the soul” in Ancient Egypt and was used a lot by music healers (Eckart Altenmüller, Finger & Boller, 2015). In Babylonian cultures, diseases were considered a “punishment” from the gods and music was used to “appease the gods” (Eckart Altenmüller, Finger & Boller, 2015). Also, Ancient Greek didn’t steer away from the same beliefs about music. However, in the era of Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, ideologies changed significantly. Pythagoras believed that by listening to music, one can retrace the outer physical harmony of the universe and achieve harmony within himself - thus healing mental disorders (Eckart Altenmüller, Finger & Boller, 2015).

Music therapy is one of the most beautiful of professions. To nourish and enhance the healthy essences of the human being through the creative, therapeutic use of music is a profoundly enriching life’s work. To receive the benefits of this therapy is a profoundly enriching experience - Edith Boxill.

At this point in time, countless studies have shown that music therapy can improve schizophrenia, serious mental disorders, depressive symptoms, sleep quality, gait and related activities in Parkinson’s disease. (Kamioka et al., 2014).In addition, Dr. Barbara Reuer, a neurologic music therapist says music therapy boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and eases chronic pain. Moreover, it relieves nausea, improves muscle control, improves brain function, reduces stress and anxiety. But listening to music is not enough says Dr. Reuer - you have to be engaged.

Music therapy at Home

In conclusion, we understand the importance of music in treating an array of health conditions. A licensed therapist is often the one performing the therapy. However, there are ways in which you can integrate music therapy into your life:

  1. Pick the right music: For relaxation, listen to music that is soothing while you practice deep breathing. For pain management, find music that helps you focus on things other than discomfort. To stimulate memory, play music you liked as a teen. To lower blood pressure, use a blood pressure monitor before and after each music session to discover which music has the best effect (Reuer, 2010).

  2. Sing or hum: Sing while remembering to breathe, in the car or around the house. If you used to play an instrument, take it up again (Reuer, 2010).

ReferencesBoller, F., Altenmüller, E., & Finger, S. (2015). Music, neurology, and neuroscience: Evolution, the musical brain, medical conditions, and therapies. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Boxill, E. H., Chase, K. M., & Boxill, E. H. (2007). Music therapy for developmental disabilities. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.Carroll, D. (2011). Historical roots of Music Therapy: A brief overview, from http://www.fap.pr.gov.br/arquivos/File/extensao/Arquivos2011/NEPIM/NEPIM_Volume_02/Tra01_NEPIM_Vol02_HistoricalRoots.pdfKamioka, H., Mutoh, Y., Tsutani, K., Yamada, M., Park, H., Okuizumi, H., . . . Oshio, T. (2014). Effectiveness of music therapy: A summary of systematic reviews based on randomized controlled trials of music interventions. Patient Preference and Adherence, 727. Tascher, J. (2017). The Healing Power of Do-It-Yourself Music Therapy, from https://bottomlineinc.com/life/emotional-health/the-healing-power-of-do-it-yourself-music-therapy

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