By description, Music Therapy is the utilization of music and all the music facets like emotions, physicality, aesthetics, mentality, and the spirituality in helping the patients of the improvement of their overall health (Summer & Nolan, 2001). The therapy supports a variety of patients from those going through social isolation and withdrawal, emotional problems, poor motor skills, and it helps improve the overall quality of life. Importantly, Music Therapy is employed in hospitals, schools, correctional facilities, hospices, nursing homes, and centers for cancer. This type of expressive art therapy that tends to use music in both maintaining and improving the physical, social, and the psychological well-being of an individual involves a wide range of activities. For instance, it consists of listening to music, playing musical instruments, and even singing.
Music has been in use as a therapeutic tool for centuries with the realization that it affects many areas of the brain, which include the regions that are involved in cognition, emotion, movement, and sensation (Aigen, 2015). This ability of music when combined with its engaging nature and the diversity of its forms make it efficient, when used in the treatment of a wide array of physical and mental problems like the anxiety, hypertension, and depression. Uniquely, the Music Therapy elicits responses from a patient that may not be attained in the other forms of treatment. Necessarily, there are no backgrounds in music that are required for the therapy to work for an individual thus making it possible to use the approach for any patient suffering from any disease or condition including dementia, insomnia, personality issues, schizophrenia, mood-related conditions and even autism.
Music Therapy both assesses and enhances social, cognitive, emotional, and motor functioning, this helps individuals who have brain injuries, physical or intellectual difficulties or Alzheimer’s. Consequently, the therapy has been associated with self-concept, self-esteem, prosocial behavior, verbal communication, socialization skills, coping skills, and group cohesion (Dimaio, 2010). Besides, it is helpful for mothers experiencing labor pain in the reduction of pain perception and stress levels. The therapy approach employment technique is either active or receptive. The active technique is used when an individual makes music, sings, chants play musical instruments, composes or improvises music. On the flip side, the receptive technique comes into play when an individual listens and responds to music like by dancing or doing the analysis of the lyrics. Most of the time, there is a combination of both active and receptive techniques during treatments and are used as the starting points of the discussions about values, feelings, and goals.
The therapy can be conducted either with an individual or a group of people, and the music may be chosen by the therapist or the one in the treatment. The therapist ensures the appropriateness of the mode and type of the selected form of music about meeting the needs and goals of the patient in therapy (Summer & Nolan, 2001). During their selection of music, the therapist employs the Iso principle which posits that a chosen music is likely to have influence if it matches the person’s current situation. Therefore, the therapy is useful when the melody and lyrics of the piece of music that is selected match the moods and psychological state of the one in the treatment. Songwriting in the therapy involves either writing an original song or the modification of the ones that already exist. However, in the cases where songs are composed freely, a provision of emotion or topic that serves as a starting point is made by the therapist.
There are three principal domains of the Music Therapy that include the rehabilitative approaches, the relational approaches, and music listening. Relational approaches are the psychological models that involve the active and receptive techniques. The two techniques allow the therapist and the patient to interact directly hence building a musical relationship. Besides, the techniques induce psychological effects that are beneficial to the patient since they evoke and even process the thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, rehabilitative approaches like the Neurologic Music Therapy are neuroscientific models (Aigen, 2015). They primarily use the music stimuli potentiality to activate the production and perception areas in the human brain, cognitive, provision of a series of therapeutic applications to sensory, and the motor dysfunctions that result from the neurological disorders. Some of the examples of its use are in the improvement of gait and movement in post-stroke and personality disorder patients and also language in people with aphasia. The third approach to music listening requires no therapist and involves the induction of the patient by the content of musical stimuli and by listening.
Some of the explanations of how Music Therapy is essential to include the increase in responsiveness to antidepressant medications by the depressed. For the sad adult women, the treatment leads to the reduction of their heart rates, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and the depressed mood. In the infants, soothing music helps attain more relaxation and less agitation; they may increase feeding rates, improve their tolerance to stimulation and increase weight gain. Also, the therapy decreases the risk of brain and heart diseases in the elderly dementia patients, reduce the agitated and aggressive behavior, improve corporation in their daily tasks, and reduce the dementia symptoms (Dimaio, 2010). Further, it aids in the teaching of the verbal and nonverbal skills of communication and the establishment of a standard developmental process in the autism patients. Furthermore, the therapy also aids in the vibroacoustic therapy that involves exposing a patient to low-frequency sound waves of music. The vibrations from the sound waves are directly applied to the body of the patient and help in the improvement of disease symptoms, the patient’s mood, the collaboration of the patient in performing the therapist’s tasks, and an increase in motor skills.
In summary, music can be beneficial to any person but is importantly used therapeutically for those who have emotional, social, physical, or cognitive deficits. It can also be helpful in reduction of stress, relaxing, improvement of moods, or when exercising. Music therapists assist their patients in achieving goals like academic strength, development of communication, motor skills, and attention span besides pain management and behavioral therapy. In fact, the therapy improves both psychological and social outcomes which explain the reason as to why it is widely used in clinical practice. Due to the possible side effects of the pharmacological treatment of the depressive syndromes that follow a neurological disease, Music Therapy supports the patients significantly in improving their moods, reducing the symptoms, and adhering to their treatment while also contributing to their functional recovery. Markedly, the role of music in the therapy is to help the therapist form a relationship with the patient that helps unlock the thoughts and feelings of that patient.