The Benefits Of Music Therapy

By:    Published: September 27, 2012

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Music therapy is gaining popularity among individuals seeking a natural approach to various conditions. It is an integrative treatment that works well when used in combination with standard medical treatments. Depending on the type of condition being treated, music therapy can also be successful when used as a sole treatment on its own.

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a legitimate health profession that uses music in a therapeutic environment to treat individuals suffering from physical ailments, cognitive disabilities, emotional disorders and social issues. Music therapy relies on music to bring about healing in individuals suffering from a variety of conditions. Health care professionals use music therapy to enhance the quality of life in their patients.

  • Music therapy uses music in a therapeutic manner to encourage individuals to become active participants in the treatment of their condition.
  • Musical involvement helps the individual focus on his strengths, thus providing ways in which those strengths can benefit other aspects of the individual’s life.
  • Music therapy helps individuals learn to communicate effectively and gives an outlet for expression of emotions.
  • Several research studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of music therapy, the majority of which support its use in areas such as physical rehabilitation, motivational encouragement and as a form of emotional support.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

There are many ways in which music therapy can have a positive impact on an individual’s health and wellness. The type of condition being treated determines how the therapy works.

For people suffering from chronic pain, music therapy provides a form of sensory stimulation that brings about a positive response in the individual. For example, the use of music therapy by a woman in labor provides her with a sensory distraction that helps her to visualize positive images that correspond with the music.

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The music can also help her develop a balanced breathing rhythm that encourages her to exhale to release during steady beats. Physicians and hospital staff report that patients who participate in music therapy often require less medication to control pain and have better overall respiration, blood pressure and heart rate, as opposed to patients who do not partake in music therapy.

What Are The Benefits Of Music Therapy

There are numerous conditions that can benefit from the use of music therapy.

  • Research shows that music therapy used in combination with drugs to reduce nausea can greatly reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer patients receiving high doses of radiation and chemotherapy.
  • For emotional issues, the therapy can be very effective in reducing stress, increasing relaxation, providing an outlet for a release of built up emotions, boosting memory, improving communication, enhancing spirituality and reducing feelings of loneliness.
  • Music therapy is highly effective as a pain management technique, especially in individual suffering chronic pain.
  • Recent studies suggest that music therapy can help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
  • Music therapy performed in group settings has been shown to have a positive effect on individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addictions.

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Researchers believe that when used in a clinical setting, music can help individuals by blocking pain receptors, thereby decreasing their perceived level of pain. Music therapy is believed to subconsciously promote rhythmic breathing, thereby increasing relaxation and alleviating stress and anxiety.

Who Can Benefit From Music Therapy?

The list of individuals who can benefit from music therapy is a long one.

  • Music therapy is commonly used to treat children and adolescents suffering from behavioral disorders, developmental disabilities and learning disabilities.
  • Women who are pregnant and those who are in labor often use music therapy to help alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • Music therapy is commonly used by Treatment Centers that treat brain injuries or Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as cancer centers and drug and alcohol abuse centers.
  • Many psychiatrists or psychologist promote the use of music therapy to treat patients suffering from anxiety and other mental health disorders.
  • Music therapy is a safe, natural treatment that is recommended for just about anyone who is seeking a holistic approach.

How To Get Started

Speak with your physician and inquire about music therapy programs in your area. These programs tend to fill up quickly and because class size is usually limited, they sometimes have waiting lists. In the meantime, try practicing some basic music therapy techniques on your own.

  • First, identify the type of music that has a soothing effect on you. This varies among individuals and is different for everyone. Do not limit yourself to the classical music that is traditionally believed to help with relaxation and mediation. While this may work for some people, others find that rock and roll or country music has a better effect. It is a personal decision based on your likes and dislikes.
  • If you are not sure which type of music will have the most positive effect on your condition, do a quick test to determine your personality type. Ask yourself what your initial reaction is to brief pain, such as when you stub your toe or bite your tongue. If you rant and rave until the pain goes away, your personality may warrant more aggressive music with fast beats. If you are the grin and bear it type, you’d probably fare better with soft tones and slow, rhythmic beats.
  • Purchase music CD’s or download music to create a personal music CD. Listen to this CD when driving in the car, while making dinner or before bed.

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