The Therapeutic Powers of Music

Music of all kinds has the incredible power to move emotions, transform the mind, and calm the body. Just think about the last time your favorite song began playing and the feelings of excitement or happiness you felt.

No matter if you’re listening to music or playing it yourself, the transformation that can occur, even if it’s temporary, is like none other experienced with any other form of expression.

Music lifts our moods considerably. It can change our perspective on ourselves, others, or our broader community. It can turn a bad day into a good one.

So, it’s no wonder music is used as a means of licensed therapy for all kinds of people, both young and old.

However, you don’t have to engage in formal treatment to enjoy the benefits music brings. From point A to point B, listening to music in the car can do wonders for our emotional wellbeing. Learning a new instrument can challenge our minds in new ways.

Practicing or performing music can place your mind in such a state of flow that stressors disappear entirely, at least while you’re playing.


The Science of Music

Why is music so powerful?

Music offers a complete workout for the mind; its structure and mathematical type composition requires your brain to constantly compute to understand what it’s hearing.

Challenging your mind in such an enjoyable way results in reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure, improved relationship health, better sleep patterns, improved memory and mood, and increased mental sharpness.

Music Can be your True Therapy

Clinical Applications of Music

Music in therapy is a popular form of treatment for many where clinical, evidence-based practices are employed by qualified health professionals in a structured setting.

Clinicians will custom tailor each music therapy session to their clients depending upon their progress and treatment course plan, and goals.

Music therapy offers a client the opportunity to work on emotional regulation, verbal expression and non-verbal expression, and neurological development.

This treatment may include playing music, listening to music, moving with the music, or musical interpretation.


Areas of Focus

Music therapy in these settings offers an opportunity for clients to process their feelings nonverbally through music.

These healing sessions then transfer to other areas of the client’s life, allowing them the space and toolset to begin to cope with complicated feelings or situations.

Music is not just used for the treatment of mental health circumstances.

Popular uses include physical rehabilitation, occupational therapy, movement facilitation, personal expression work, treatment for depression and anxiety, substance abuse and other addiction treatments, trauma work, and treatment of autism spectrum conditions and behaviour disorders.


Music Therapy and Young Children

Younger children are undergoing massive transformations cognitively, emotionally, and physically. For children receiving treatment with issues in development, music therapy can be very effective.

Music interacts with children through many senses: sight, hearing, touch, movement.

Most children respond positively to music reacting with excitement and visible enjoyment, motivating them to engage in positive behaviour that encourages their self-esteem, increased comfort, and solid sense of self.

Music therapy effectively helps children focus, move through stressful environments, regulate their bodies, deal with pain, communicate with others, and practice their verbal skills.

Music therapists working with children may treat a child solely or as part of an integrative team.

You can find music therapists in schools, community health centres, in-patient centres, and private practice.

Older Children and Adolescents

Moe than 20% of music therapists work with children and adolescents.

This statistic isn’t surprising when considering one-fifth of youth will experience mental health issues at some point in their development.

It’s common to see music therapists working in public and private school settings, private practice, inpatient treatment centres, juvenile detention centres, and community health centres.


Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s and other diseases associated with ageing profoundly affect an individual’s ability to function physically, psychologically, and in cognitive processes.

Music is a therapeutic experience that triggers sensory responses and challenges the mind much like a puzzle or other mental exercise.

Simultaneously, music calms the body, decreasing stress, easing the mind of apprehension, and lowering blood pressure.

This effect provides space for an ageing client to feel more confident and in control of their space. It gives them the room to work on the areas that challenge them the most in a way that is enjoyable and productive.

Music Can Repair the Mind

Pain Management

The effectiveness of music therapy lies in the translation of music heard to body systems affected.

When a patient listens to or experiences music in another way, the process creates change in the individual’s body, mainly via a relaxed muscular system, lower heart rate, improved breathing, improved cardiac response.

All of these factors directly contribute to a patient’s ability to control pain perception.

In applications of pain management, music therapy takes time through repetition.

With increasing sessions, the client becomes conditioned to relax the body and focus on the music instead of the pain.

Their improved mood and focus on other calming techniques help regulate pain intensity perceived by the patient.


Military Members and Veterans

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions linked to military service can have a profound effect on military service personnel.

These conditions almost certainly leak out into other areas of an individual’s life, particularly affecting their relationship with self, family, and the broader community.

Music therapy to treat PTSD and other conditions can help service members cope with trauma and learn techniques for managing their conditions and improving their relationships.

Music therapists working with military service members may operate as part of a team using an integrated approach to treatment.

They may work solely with a client focusing on one specific problem set.


Other Populations

Music therapy can be incorporated into treatment for various populations to include special education, autism spectrum, behaviour disorders, trauma, correctional populations, and more.

If you’re interested in locating a music therapist, be sure to look up their credentials to be sure you are dealing with a licensed music therapist.

Licensed music therapists possess specific skills and training to apply music-based therapy effectively.

Photos: Shutterstock

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