Music therapy is harder than it looks. Not only does it include the playing of music, but it also can include creating and analyzing music in order to increase the health of an individual. The short article "What to Expect from Music Therapy?" points out just a little of what happens when someone turns to music therapy for its health benefits:
If you consult a music therapist for a particular condition, the therapist will first talk to you about your symptoms and needs. In addition, the therapist will assess your emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through your musical responses. Using this information, an appropriate treatment program will the be designed, which will probably include playing music, listening to music, analyzing lyrics, composing songs, improvising, and/or using rhythmic movement. During your regular sessions, the therapist may participate in these activities with you or simply guide you. You may also be encouraged to talk about the images or feelings that are evoked by the music.
The type of music used will vary from person to person, depending on his or her preferences and how they can fulfill their needs. It can also be applied to a group setting, such as a class, so that many people can benefit from making music together. This works particularly well with young children who have physical and behavioral disabilities. Special-education schools across the United States are hiring music therapists to help within the classroom setting. Some of the more common uses for music therapy are:
Studies have found that music therapy is effective at promoting relaxation, relieving anxiety and stress, and treating depression. Music therapy allows people with emotional problems to explore feelings, make positive changes in mood, practice problem solving, and resolve conflicts. It can strengthen communication and physical coordination skills, and improve the physical and mental functioning of those with neurological or developmental disorders. As far as pain management goes, music therapy is increasingly used in hospitals to reduce the need for medication during childbirth and to complement the use of anesthesia during surgery. It is also used to help ease the pain of chronic ailments such as headache. Music therapy can also improve the quality of life of terminally ill patients and enhance the well-being of the elderly, including those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. It has also been used to complement the treatment of AIDS, stroke, Parkinson's, and cancer. Those with learning disabilities and speech and hearing problems may also find music therapy helpful.
Music therapy, while still a growing field of medicine, has made a very large impact on health care within our society. It can help people with a variety of medical maladies, or even those who are simply stresses, and it can help people of all ages and situations. Music is a medium that can transcend communication, and we are finding out more about how it can transcend pain and disease.