Music has always been a fundamental part of human life, helping to shape the cultures we study today. In addition, it plays a fundamental role in our lives, as it is present in our best moments, the happiest, the saddest and also the most complicated ones. In recent years it has been given a therapeutic use, thus giving birth to music therapy. Music therapy is defined as the use of a person’s responses and connections to music to stimulate positive changes in mood and overall well-being.
In order to treat patients, an initial assessment is made, considering what the main goal of therapy is. After this, a musical evaluation is made, where the patient’s reactions to different types of music is analyzed, as well as the way in which the patient relates to it, whether they like it or not. In this step it is also possible to detect any deficiencies in motor or body expression. Once the evaluations are done, general and specific objectives are generated with the purpose of focusing the therapy. Likewise, the duration of this therapy depends on the analysis given the results of the evaluations.
Receptive and expressive methods can be used during the sessions depending on the patient’s needs. Expressive methods are based on visible actions derived from the music presented to the patient, while receptive methods are based on internal activities that can cause mood changes with the music.
Listening to and/or creating music has many benefits that conventional therapies do not, for example, learning and practicing a piece of music improves memory skills, coordination, reading, comprehension and can also cultivate responsibility and perseverance, creating a sense of achievement which can improve mood and self-esteem.
Another benefit is that, when understanding the history and meaning behind the songs they hear can help patients connect with their favorite music and artists, which helps them feel that they are not alone in this world.
The main documented benefits of music therapy are:
Another great benefit of music therapy, suggested by several studies, is its ability to reduce anxiety in people, including cancer patients, those undergoing surgery, and people in intensive care. Studies also suggest that music therapy is effective in reducing heart rate and blood pressure, factors that can have a direct effect on the amount of stress people feel.
Likewise, music therapy can reduce the symptoms of depression when used as a complementary therapy to those used conventionally. It also promotes the secretion of hormones such as dopamine and endorphins that induce good mood and relieve pain.
Although music therapy is not a cure for any of these conditions, if used as a complementary therapy, for it can offer peace of mind and improve quality of life for many people.
In addition, the effectiveness of this type of therapy in children has been proven, as it offers a wide range of benefits that stimulate their personal and social development. Such therapies are commonly used with children with ADHD, autism, and Asperger. Some of the advantages are:
Social and emotional behaviors:
Music therapy uses activities that incorporate movements, songs, and rhythmic activities that stimulate the acquisition of social skills, for those who struggle with social interactions.
Music stimulates motor development. Music therapy will allow the patient to explore their body through guided movements. Flexibility, laterality, directionality, and agility will be improved.
Through music, a therapist will be able to help the patient develop an expressive and receptive language, develop communicative intent, active listening, and the ability to follow instructions.
Some musical games used in music therapy, where sounds must be repeated, help patients develop skills such as concentration and focus.
Jimmy is an 11-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was only 4 months old. He has been treated at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh throughout his life. Jimmy has always been a big fan of music and his doctors say he’s always humming and singing songs. Whenever Jimmy arrives at the hospital the first thing he does is visit the music therapists, as they have given him tools to deal with his illness and methods to express himself with his family and doctors. Once, when Jimmy broke his femur, music therapy helped him regain motivation to carry on with his physical therapies. Over the years, Jimmy has found the strength to continue with all his treatments and to overcome all the obstacles he has encountered in life through music.
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Music therapy is a good tool that can be very helpful in adverse situations, as it can improve the lives of people suffering from conditions such as depression and anxiety. Likewise, it has been proven that, when used with children, it is an effective way to improve skills that will allow them to develop in a better way. Music therapy has proven to be highly effective in helping to improve people’s quality of life, and what makes it even better is that everybody likes music.
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