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Music as therapy

Music as therapy


Music is an art, created and heard. Today around the globe, many artists produce music in new styles and genres with various themes. This very music is heard by people and taken as therapy for most.

Music therapy is the clinical use of music to accomplish individualized goals such as reducing stress and improving mood and self-expression. It is an evidence-based therapy well-established in the health community. Music therapy experiences may include listening, singing, playing instruments, or composing music.

Four Methods of Music Therapy

Compositional music therapy

What it is: A method where the client composes music with the assistance of a therapist. These compositions can contain both lyrics and instruments.​
Who it’s for: Composing music is a great way to get creative. This confidence-boosting method is ideal for clients struggling with self-esteem or processing grief.​

Improvisation music therapy

What it is: Spontaneous song creation. The music therapist interprets their client’s mood based on the sounds and lyrics of their compositions.​
Who it’s for: This method forces the client to make choices, making it ideal for a client that struggles with confidence or self-expression. Improvisation is therapeutic for those dealing with trauma or other issues that they don’t feel comfortable directly talking about.​

Receptive music therapy

What it is: The therapist plays music for their clients to respond to. The client can express their thoughts through words, compositions, or dance.​
Who it’s for: Listening to music can calm the nerves of clients with anxiety. This method is also beneficial for patients with hearing or memory issues.​

Re-creative music therapy

What it is: In this method, the client will recreate the music played by the therapist. The client can sing the lyrics or recreate the instrumentals.​
Who it’s for: This method fine-tunes motor skills, making it perfect for clients struggling with developmental issues. This includes patients with dementia and children with movement disorders.​

What are the benefits of music therapy?

While each method offers different advantages, they all share the same general benefits of music therapy. Music therapy methods have several benefits, including:

Emotional benefits:
  • Reduces social anxiety
  • Expression of grief and other traumatic feelings
  • Curbs impulsivity
Physical benefits:
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Relaxes muscles
  • Improves fine motor skills
Neurological benefits:
  • Aids insomnia issues
  • Reduces headaches
  • Healing for patients with traumatic brain injuries
Disadvantages of Music Therapy?

Now you may be wondering why one would begin with cons rather than pros. This is because the article should end on a high note and leave you in awe about the helpfulness of music therapy! Now, music therapy has many benefits both clinically and in general, but music is not a cure-all as many might think. There are a few problems that can be caused and created by music therapy. These problems include:

Overstimulation - There are a lot of factors regarding the sound behind the music. These factors include the volume, acoustics, type of instruments used, and many others. Sound and music connect profoundly with stimulation. Stimulation refers to the physiological state of a person a.k.a. heartbeat, movement, blood flow, respiratory rate, etc. When someone is overstimulated by music, this may mean that the volume is too loud or the bass thump that can be felt in your chest is too overwhelming. This type of overstimulation is especially harmful to babies in the NICU. This can cause feelings of discomfort, agitation, and neurological stress.

Memory Triggering - Music is second only to smell in its ability to incite unwanted memories. This can be traced back to an evolutionary connection to processing sound quickly as a survival method. While memory triggering can sometimes create moments of lucidity in patients suffering from Dementia, this can be harmful to patients suffering from PTSD who do not want to relive certain memories.

Anxiety - While in some cases music may help ease anxiety disorders, in others it may cause or increase anxiety. The wrong music can cause distress and heightened anxiety in Alzheimer’s patients. The lyrics can have a huge impact on the mental state of the client the therapist is treating. Certain lyrics can represent a negative mindset and an overall increase in a person’s sadness over time. This is especially daunting in patients suffering from Depression.

Music therapy and mental health techniques are still used for hospitalized patients suffering from illness or injury. However, music therapy is used for people suffering from physical ailments due to its effect on their mental state.
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