The Benefits of Music Therapy

What are the benefits of music therapy?

There are many varied benefits of music therapy which continues to grow in popularity and be applied in an ever increasing range of situations. Music therapy is often used to assist people coping with mental or emotional issues. It is now also used to help people who are struggling to recover their physical health. One of the great advantages of music therapy when compared to other forms of therapy is that there are no side effects and it can be far more economical.

Music therapy research has shown that music has the power to positively stimulate and activate the brain in a variety of ways. The American Psychological Association’s research has shown that musical therapy overcomes language barriers, recall lost memories and promote healing. Research has demonstrated that music can affect perception, cognition and motor function within the brain.

Music therapy is used to help retrain the brain’s functioning. Music therapists help their clients to reduce mental health issues, address problems and achieve goals.

Music therapy has been shown to provide distinct benefits in the following broad areas -:

  • A reduction in stress and anxiety levels
  • Improved rates of healing
  • Better management of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease A decrease in the symptoms of depression for some patents
  • A lowering of the symptoms associated with some psychological conditions Improved self expression and better communication

Recent indications suggest that the demand for music therapists will rise in coming years. The Bureau of Labour Statistics suggests that demand will rise by around 12%. The positive music therapy job outlook is due to more scientific research validating the practice and an increased awareness within the community of the value that musical therapy can have. Music therapists can work in a variety of fields including brain injury, substance abuse, mental health, disability or developmental fields.

While career opportunities exist within the field of music therapy, the benefits of the practice are such that many people want to learn more about musical therapy simply for their own personal reasons.

Wherever your interest in musical therapy stems from, you can solidify your knowledge and enroll in a music therapy certification course? with Courses for Success today.

Physical Benefits of Music Therapy

Pain can be incredibly debilitating to patients of all ages. Music therapy can help to relieve the symptoms of pain and reduce the related feelings of anxiety and stress. This has been demonstrated to deliver positive measurable changes in respiration, blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension.

Consistent practice of music therapy combined with deep relaxation techniques can help to condition a relaxed response to musical stimuli. The practice will perform several specific functions -

  • Distract the listener’s mind away from pain and anxiety
  • Stimulate rhythmic breathing
  • Provide a rhythmic framework for the release of body tension
  • To facilitate a change of mood
  • To provoke a deep relaxation response

The Mental Benefits of Music Therapy

One of the consistent underlying features of people requiring music therapy is that of stress and anxiety. Music is often associated with stress relief. Soothing relaxing music and/or familiar music often helps to release stress.

Stress is particularly harmful and can actually cause many related illnesses to occur. Music therapy will help to reduce stress and in doing so help to relieve the symptoms of stress that can include the following

  • Physical stress symptoms such as headache, tiredness. lethargy, muscle tension, lack of sleep, nauseousness
  • Mood stress symptoms including sadness and in some cases depression, anxiety, restlessness, anger, lack of focus and feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Behavioural stress symptoms include eating disorders, social withdrawal and outbursts of anger. By relieving stress, music therapy will help to alleviate these symptoms.

The Benefits of Neurologic Music Therapy

One of the most exciting uses of music therapy is in the neurological field. Neurologic Music therapy is now used in neurological medicine. Neurologic Music Therapy is used to treat the following conditions.

  • Stroke
  • Autism
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • MS
  • Other neurological conditions

Neurologic Music Therapy is becoming widely used and is known to be beneficial in the following areas.

  • Cognitive functions such as memory, attention and spatial neglect.
  • Speech and language can be improved by using singing to improve speech
  • Balance, strength, endurance and gait are some of the motor areas that can be improved by the use of rhythm and dance.

Autism Music Therapy Benefits

Research has demonstrated that people on the autism spectrum, gain substantial benefits from music therapy. Many people suffering from autism are particularly responsive to music and musical therapy may be an ideal way to assist them in the following areas.

  • An increase in appropriate social behaviour Improved concentration and attention abilities Better self care
  • Better vocabulary comprehension
  • Enhanced communication skills
  • Better social skills
  • Better body awareness and increased body coordination abilities Lower anxiety levels

PTSD MUSIC THERAPY BENEFITS

Music therapy has been used in some form or other to alleviate the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Order (PTSD) as it is now known at least since the 1940s when the US army began to use music to assist soldiers in recovery.

PTSD is a severe disorder/syndrome that is prevalent in many combat veterans and trauma survivors. Regular treatment programs of PTSD patients within the military have revealed that music therapy has positive benefits. Reports from the US department of veterans affairs states that there is significant evidence that music therapy helps to relieve PTSD symptoms and associated stress and physical health problems.

The use of music therapy for PTSD sufferers outside of a military context continues to grow.

How Does Music Therapy Affect The Brain?

It may not be immediately obvious, but music is complex, structured and inherently mathematical. The brain has to perform many calculations to translate what we hear into what we know to be music. This workout has a positive impact upon the brain.

Recent research has shown that music therapy can improve the recovery rates of patients that have suffered some type of brain injury, stroke or other brain trauma. Methods successfully used range from rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS), connecting rhythm and movement, through to song, listening, music improvisation, and musical composition. These successes reinforce the fact that music helps to exercise and stimulate the brain.

The brain is affected in other ways by music as well. Studies have shown that the brain releases more dopamine when we listen to music that we find enjoyable. Dopamine is regarded by scientists and medical practitioners as a critical neurotransmitter for our cognitive and emotional functioning – or in layman's language – music is a healthy form of stimulus or the brain.

Musical therapy, therefore, has a role to play in developing, healing and caring for the brain.

History of Music Therapy

The effect of music upon people’s emotional and physical states has been acknowledged way back in to ancient times. However, the history of music therapy in its modern form is a relatively new concept. The first scholarly article in relation to music therapy appeared in the late eighteenth century and t wasn’t until 1891 that the guild of St Cecilia was regularly using music to assist in the treatment of large numbers of London hospital patients. In the United States, doctors began to use recorded music as a diversion in the operating room.

However, it wasn’t until the mid twentieth century that music therapy began to emerge as a serious practice. From somewhat humble beginnings, the National Association of Musical Therapy and the American

Association of Music Therapy have grown and merged into the American Music Therapy Association.

The certification board of music therapists was established in 1983 to supervise the certification of music therapists.

What Does a Music Therapist Do?

Music therapists use music responses to measure cognitive skills, emotional skills, social skills, communication skills and physical health. They then structure music individual and group programs to address an individual’s specific therapy needs. Sessions will vary according to need and may include receptive listening sessions, lyric analysis and discussion, songwriting and improvisation sessions.

Music therapy skills are required in a variety of workplaces. These include hospitals, rehabilitation centres, nursing homes, psychiatric facilities, day care centres, schools, senior citizens centres and correctional facilities.

How to Become a Music Therapist

Music therapy offers the opportunity to combine a love of music and helping others less fortunate. Music therapy is a rewarding and engaging career path for those that have a bachelor’s degree in music or an equivalent degree in education, psychology or a related discipline. To become a certified music therapist will take several years of full time study in several related disciplines. A good way to investigate whether to pursue a career in music therapy is to take a short online course like those offered by Courses For Success.

The average music therapy salary in the United States is $47,680. This will, however, vary according to specific roles and responsibilities. Top earners earn in excess of $74,000.

So, How Does Music Therapy Work?

Music therapy uses music to touch multiple levels of a patient’s being. Music is able to influence a patient’s body, mind, behaviour and brain, by slowing the body’s rhythms, distracting the mind, altering mood and impacting on outward behaviour.

Music therapists are able to apply their knowledge to specific situations to design a therapy program that will help best influence a patient’s desired outcomes. Usually, a therapy program will forward under two broad processes - creative or receptive. There is no need for the patient to be musically literate to benefit from either process.

The creative musical therapy process is essentially a collaborative process between therapist and patient where they work to create together to produce a piece of music. This could be drumming, composition or some form of musical improvisation.

The receptive musical therapy process is more based on listening and responding to pieces of music chosen by the therapist. The respondent is then encouraged to discuss their emotional responses and feelings to the music and/or lyrics.

Both forms of therapy are known to work when used appropriately.

Music Therapy Schools

There are many schools and colleges that offer graduate and diploma level music therapy programs. When choosing a school it is important to match your chosen career path with what the music therapy course specifically offers.

It is helpful for music therapists to be AMTA board certified. To have the best chance of gaining AMTA certification, it is important to choose a school that offers an AMTA approved program.
To gain a music therapy qualification may require three to four years of full time study. Before committing to full time course, it may be worth your while undertaking a short online course to gain some perspective on musical therapy and whether it is a suitable career to follow.

Music Therapy Perspectives

One of the main resources that music therapy professionals and students use is the journal called Music Therapy Perspectives edited by Anthony Meadows on behalf of the American Music Therapy Association. The journal acts as a forum and resource for everybody working in the music therapy industry and is a valuable resource to keep up with further research into the benefits associated with this practice.

Music Therapy Courses Online

Online courses make an excellent introduction to music therapy.

Consider these real advantages in choosing to learn about music therapy online.

  1. Cost: To commit to a full music therapy course will cost thousands of dollars. You can get a thorough introduction to music therapy through Courses For Success for as little as $199. Similar and related course packages are available for equally low prices.
  2. Convenience: You can gain an understanding of music therapy without the inconvenience of having to travel or schedule your life around class timetables.
  3. Ease of Learning: You are in control of what, when and how you learn. You can revisit a lesson module as often as you need to.

With music therapy becoming increasingly popular, there has never been a better time to become acquainted with music therapy. Take the first step today and enroll with Courses For Success now!

The CFS Team
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