What is music therapy?
Music therapy is a clinical and evidence-based form of treatment used by a certified professional in order to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship. As quoted from Goodtherapy.org, music therapy is “a type of expressive arts therapy that uses music to improve and maintain the physical, psychological, and social well-being of individuals”. A music therapist requires at least a bachelor’s degree in music therapy and MT-BC credential. Music therapists must have knowledge in psychology, medicine, and music.
Examples of music therapy
- A music therapist may use song cues with a child who has autism in order to increase communication capabilities.
- A music therapist may use the lyrics of a song in order to facilitate a positive discussion with psychiatric patients.
- A music therapist may use a beat to follow for a patient whose walking has been affected by a stroke, which the brain will entrain to and eventually cause each step to match the beat.
- A music therapist may use the lyrics or melody of a song to repair memory in a patient with Alzheimer’s, and teach them how to express needs through song.
Why music therapy?
As the nation is starting to want to use less medicine, music therapy is the perfect rising treatment to not just treat symptoms, but treat the whole self. People are starting to recognize the significant connection between emotional and physical health, and music therapy puts all its focus on that connection. Music therapy can be used on a variety of different cases ranging in the biological, cognitive, and sociocultural perspective, but the goals are never musical. Music therapy is used to make patients feel better, relieve symptoms, and reach a goal.
Strangely, there is lack of music therapy awareness. People use music everyday in order to express and change their emotions. Examples include listening to upbeat music for motivation to run a little further in a workout, or listening to a sad song during a breakup in order to express feelings. Music is an extremely powerful tool, considering its various elements (beat, melody, etc) as well as it being one of the only things where multiple areas of the brain are needed to process.
Music therapy is a profession that the Western world has not taken into common consideration when it comes to mental health treatment. There is a lack of music therapists in the U.S. because not many people recognize it as a profession. People do not commonly know what music therapists do and therefore do not have high respect for music therapy. General healthcare sees music therapy as helpful, but not necessary. I disagree. I believe because music is meaningful, so is music therapy. By making music therapy a more common term institutionally, many patients who haven’t found their perfect treatment yet may find the one.
Quotes on Music Therapy
“Music therapy helps speech, but also motor skills, memory and balance. Also emotionally uplifting.” – Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Twitter, May 2011
“When we look at the body of evidence that the arts contribute to our society, it’s absolutely astounding. Music Therapists are breaking down the walls of silence and affliction of autism, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.” – Michael Greene, Grammy Awards, 1997
‘”Before I had surgery, they told me I could never walk again. But when I sat and listened to music, I forgot all about the pain,” said [Ida] Goldman, who walked with assistance during the hearing.’ – Ida Goldman, Senate Hearings, Aug 1 1991
Ways you can spread awareness
Anyone can spread awareness for music therapy. You can start by sharing this presentation with anyone who may have any interest in music or medicine/psychology. If you know someone who is staying at a hospital, you could ask them if they have consulted the hospital’s music therapist in order to relieve their pain. If you know someone who is struggling with mental health and has not found the treatment right for them, you could recommend that they reach out to a music therapist. If you or someone you know has interests in medicine, music, and/or psychology, you could recommend music therapy as a potential profession.
“Definition and Quotes about Music Therapy.” American Music Therapy Association, www.musictherapy.org/about/quotes/.
Landau, Elizabeth. “When patients have ‘music emergencies.'” CNN, 23 Aug. 2013, www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/health/music-therapy/index.html.
“Music Therapy.” Good Therapy, 22 Dec. 2015, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/music-therapy.
“Music Therapy.” Music Institute of Chicago, www.musicinst.org/music-therapy.
Peterson Family Foundation Music Therapy Program. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, University of California San Francisco, www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/services/music_program/.
“UCSF Our Stories: Healing the Soul with Music Therapist Oliver Jacobson.” YouTube, uploaded by UCSFMedical Center, 15 Apr. 2014, youtu.be/js44smmzC6s.
“Why I Want to Change the World with Music Therapy | Erin Seibert | TEDxUSFSP.” YouTube, uploaded by Tedx Talks, 11 Jan. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=47-90fPyQa8.