Music Therapy Essay Sample
Music Therapy: Is It The Cure To Mental & Physical Problems? Music therapy is defined as the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Music has nonverbal, creative, structural, and emotional qualities. These are used in the therapeutic relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication, and personal development (Source: Canadian Association of Music Therapy).
In other words, music therapy is the use of music by a trained professional to achieve therapeutic goals. Goal areas include, but are not limited to, motor skills, social/interpersonal development, cognitive development, self-awareness, and spiritual enhancement. Music therapy is now an established health service similar to occupational therapy and physical therapy. Music therapists use music to facilitate changes that are non-musical in nature. The use of music for those with arthritis provides opportunity for pain relief, anxiety and stress reduction and positive changes in both mood and emotional state.
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, songwriting and listening in reminiscence/orientation work with the elderly, processing and relaxation work, and rhythmic entrainment for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims.
History of Music Therapy
For centuries, music and medicine have been linked together. The Greeks believed that music had the power to heal the body and the soul, as reflected in their mythology, with Apollo – the god of music, giving rise to his son Aesculapius – the god of healing and medicine. Zenocrates, Sarpenter, and Arion were the first Greeks to use music for the purposes of calming the mentally ill. The playwright Homer believed that music could be used to avoid negative feelings, and philosophers such as Confucius, Plato, and Pythagoras believed that daily exposure to music would enhance one’s health. Aristotle went so far as to practice psychocatharsis, a belief that those who suffered from uncontrollable emotions would relapse to their normal condition after having listened to music, which raised their souls to ecstasy (Source: Johnston, K & Rohaly-Davis, J. An introduction to music therapy: Helping the oncology patient in the ICU, 1996).
Music’s acceptance as an effective form of therapy in the medical setting occurred following World War II, when it was used to aide in the recovery of soldiers that were wounded, disabled, or shellshocked. Music therapy deals with the “controlled use of music and its influence on the human being in physiologic, psychological, and emotional integration of the individual during treatment of an illness or disability”. It has also been defined as the “behavioral science that is concerned with the use of specific kinds of music and its ability to produce changes in behavior, emotions, and physiology”. Music has long been recognized as a universal language – capable of breaking down cultural, educational, linguistic, mental, and emotional barriers. It can open lines of communication by eliciting feelings, thoughts and memories, thereby creating a familiar environment reminiscent of the family, homeland, and the past. Its noninvasive nature allows it to be used in a variety of clinical settings, ranging from surgery to postoperative care to neonatal care to intensive care.
Music has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing psychophysiologic stress, pain, and anxiety. By allowing the patient to refocus upon something more pleasant, the isolation and monotony of hospitalization are diverted from his or her attention.2 Further, by reducing self-preoccupation and by filtering out unpleasant and unfamiliar sounds associated with hospitalization, the needs for excessive medication are reduced, the side effects of the medication are minimized, and a shorter recovery is facilitated. In essence, music produces a counter to the stress response, in that relaxation is promoted, and the body is returned to a healthier balance (Source: Watkins, G. Music Therapy: Proposed Physiological Mechanisms and Clinical Implications, 1997).
How Music Affects the Body
All music components of music – Tempo, pitch, volume, and rhythm – affect our body. Tempo is defined as the pace of the music. Tempos in the range of 60 – 70 beats per minute have been found to be most soothing, because they reflect the similar tempo of the heart. A pace faster than that causes tension, while a pace slower than that creates the feeling of suspense. The pitch or highness or lowness of a sound is determined by the frequency of sound waves and it acts on the autonomic nervous system. A high pitch causes tension, while a low pitch promotes relaxation. The volume, or intensity/loudness of the music, can cause pain if very high, yet can be soothing and relaxing if low. Rhythm helps the body to regain the order that it had previous to the stress caused by the medical illness or condition. Specifically, music assists in restoring the circadian rhythms of temperature and sleep, the ultradian rhythms of autonomic system regulation, metabolic processes, and cerebral dominance, and the rhythms of respiration, peristalsis, and heart rate. In addition, for infants born premature or ill, music helps to recreate the order of the fetal environment experienced in utero, and promotes a low arousal state, such that calories are conserved for growth and healing (Source: Burke, M., Walsh, J., Oehler, J., & Gingras, J. Music Therapy Following Suctioning: Four Case Studies, 1995).
Music Therapy Applications
Music therapy is used with individuals of various ages, abilities, and musical backgrounds in institutional, community and private practice settings. This includes but is not limited to: Acquired Brain Injury
Autism and other Pervasive Development Disabilities
Speech and Language Impairments
Teens at Risk
Victims of Abuse
improve mood and mobility of people with Parkinson’s disease reduce the need for sedatives and pain relievers during and after surgery decrease nausea during chemotherapy help patients participate in medical treatment that shortens hospital stays relieve anxiety lower blood pressure ease depression enhance concentration and creativity
The best part is that to take advantage of music’s healing power, you don’t need to take a prescription to your local music store. You don’t even have to go to the music store at all. The home remedies you need are probably already in your music collection. “Many years of research have shown me that there is no set prescription, no particular piece of music that will make everyone feel better or more relaxed,” says Suzanne Hanser, EdD, chairperson of the music therapy department at Berklee College of Music and a music therapist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, both in Boston. “What counts is familiarity, musical taste, and the kinds of memories, feelings, and associations a piece of music brings to mind. Some people relax to classical music, others like the Moody Blues. The key is to individualize your musical selections.” (Source: Sarí N. Harrar, Music As Medicine, Health News / Prevention.com)
Moods rose and depression fell for 20 people, ages 61 to 86, who listened to familiar music they selected while practicing various stress-reduction techniques–on their own or with the help of a music therapist–according to a study from Stanford University School of Medicine. Meanwhile, a control group who missed out on the music and the exercises saw no improvement during the 8-week study period.
Best Music: Upbeat, energetic, rhythmic selections.
Listening Strategy: While the music plays, perform gentle exercises, depending on your fitness level. Let the music move you. Keep your movements light and flowing. Breathe to the music. With each new phrase, find a new way to move. Gently come to rest at the end of the music.
Classical and New Age music helped 24 of 25 people with sleeping problems nod off more quickly, snooze for longer periods of time, or get back to sleep more easily after a middle-of-the-night awakening, according to a study from the University of Louisville School of Nursing.
Best Music: Quiet, melodic pieces with a slow beat and few, if any, rhythmic accents. Listening Strategy: Begin shifting into low gear after supper. Skip the after-dinner coffee, and avoid telephone calls and TV after 9 pm. Play softer and quieter music as bedtime approaches. Continue listening in bed with a tape recorder or CD player equipped with a silent on/off switch. Lie quietly, taking even, deep breaths.
Many studies have found that soothing melodies can ease anxious feelings and quiet both blood pressure and heart rate–even under very stressful conditions. Everyday stress responds to music too, says Dr. Hanser, who leads music-therapy groups for patients, families, and staff at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Here is her technique.
Best Music: “Look for something that deeply focuses your attention, so that the worries of the day–your concerns about what’s happened earlier and your plans for what should happen in the future–slip away,” says Dr. Hanser. “You want to free your mind and distract yourself. The music must grab your attention and at the same time relax your body.”
Listening Strategy: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, in a place where you will not be disturbed. After listening for a few minutes, add a relaxation exercise: Starting at your feet, gently tighten, then relax your muscles. “You can feel refreshed after listening for as little as 10 minutes,” Dr. Hanser says. “Afterward, you may find that you’re able to think more clearly and approach the rest of your day with a more positive, relaxed outlook.”
To Relieve Pain
Physical discomforts–from postoperative pain to chronic aches–can be eased with flowing melodies and distracting rhythms, music therapists and researchers say. One study from Yale University School of Medicine found that people who listened to their favorite music while awake during a surgical procedure needed smaller amounts of sedative and pain medications than those who didn’t hear music.
Alicia Ann Clair, PhD, a board-certified music therapist and director of music therapy at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, has also found that the application of music can bring temporary relief from both short-term pain and long-term discomforts associated with chronic medical conditions. “Music won’t eliminate the need for pain relievers,” Dr. Clair says. “But it may help them be more effective.”
Best Music: Gentle, soothing stress-reducing selections. “You want to break the pain cycle by sending your body cues to relax and by occupying and distracting your mind,” says Martha Burke, MT-BC (Music Therapy, Board-Certified), director of the Center for Music Therapy Research in Greenville, NC. “Gently flowing music or music with a slow, steady pulse can help promote relaxation, which can then alter your perception of pain.”
Listening Strategy: Sit or lie in a comfortable position while the music plays. “Take at least 15 minutes to concentrate fully on the music,” Burke suggests. “This is more than background music for washing the dishes or reading the newspaper. Give it your full attention.”
Misconceptions About Music Therapy
That the client or patient has to have some particular music ability to benefit from music therapy — they do not. That there is one particular style of music that is more therapeutic than all the rest — this is not the case. All styles of music can be useful in effecting change in a client or patient’s life. The individual’s preferences, circumstances and need for treatment, and the client or patient’s goals help to determine the types of music a music therapist may use. Music Therapy is an established healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages. Music therapy improves the quality of life for persons who are well and meets the needs of children and adults with disabilities or illnesses. Music therapy interventions can be designed to: promote wellness
promote physical rehabilitation.
Almost everyone has used music at one time or another to relax or perhaps to get energized. But the discipline of music therapy takes the use of music much further, from battling depression to combating cancer.
“Music therapy is an evidence-based practice that can affect changes in physical, psychological, social and cognitive domains through music experiences and the relationship that develops between the client and the therapist,” said Cheryl Dileo, a professor of music therapy and director of the Arts and Quality of Life Research Center at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Just turning up the radio to your favorite tune to erase a blue mood doesn’t qualify as music therapy, Dileo explained. “Self-help through music is not music therapy, although many people do use music for themselves, for example for relaxation to improve their moods, or to accompany exercise.”
Music therapy, on the other hand, “involves an interpersonal process through which a trained therapist uses his or her knowledge and skills to address the client’s assessed needs and issues,” she said. “Although many people understand intuitively how to use music for themselves, when it is used within a music-therapy process by a trained therapist, it can be a powerful means to achieving positive physical, psychological, cognitive and social outcomes.”
The uses of music therapy are myriad, according to Dileo. Music therapy can be used to reduce the anxiety of hospital patients undergoing difficult medical procedures. It can help lessen pain and improve mood, she said. Music therapy can also help depressed patients express their feelings.
Music therapy has been used to keep Alzheimer’s patients calm and help them improve their memories at the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at the Beth Abraham Family of Health Services in New York City.
At Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, board-certified music therapist Elizabeth Pociask uses music therapy to help new parents calm their infants.
“Music is a natural source of distraction. When a child is visibly upset, the introduction of a novel stimulus (turning on some music) will at least temporarily divert their attention away from what is upsetting them,” she explained. “The parent’s singing voice accomplishes the same thing and adds the element of familiarity — the most comforting sound for an infant will nearly always be a parent’s voice. When used regularly, music and/or singing can become a calming ritual, and the infant then learns to associate the music with relaxation or sleep.”
Dileo said that music therapists should be board-certified, which means they’ve attended at least a four-year college program, as well as completed a supervised internship and have passed a national exam.
However, less formal music programs can be helpful as well. Katherine Puckett, national director of mind-body medicine at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, said that while they don’t have board-certified music therapists on staff, the centers do use music as a means to help their patients.
“Music can activate the relaxation response, which helps promote deep breathing, lower heart rate, lower blood pressure, ease muscle tension and create less stress. That can help cancer patients sleep better, and difficulty sleeping is a common problem for cancer patients,” Puckett said.
“Relaxing the body can also help relieve physical pain, and people may need less pain medication,” she added.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America keep a library of music available for patients to use, and they have special events, such as drumming circles, that help provide an emotional release for their patients, Puckett said. “Some people can release their emotions through talking, but sometimes people need a non-verbal release. We’ve had people moved to tears in our special events,” she said.
“People respond to music — you don’t have to be sick to respond to music. It’s relaxing, comforting and soothing,” Puckett added. (Source: Serena Gordon, Music As Medicine, BusinessWeek, 2008).
Listening to music every day can have a big impact on your physical and emotional well-being as well as your overall health. It is recommended that you use headphones in order to block out external noise and distractions while listening at a comfortable volume. In short, music makes your brain happy and helps improve your emotional state of mind.
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Huxley
“The ultimate language of music is related to a world of beauty and harmony, of structure and order of which our patients are deprived because of their illness. Music expresses man’s deepest emotions. It can serve him in health and illness, in happiness and in sorrow. Music therapy is one of the most noble functions of music.”– Alvin, Principles of Music Therapy.