Music is a part of everyone’s life. It’s a medium of art and a form of expression. All of us have a favorite song/music that reassures us, resonates with us, makes us happy or expresses the vibe in us. This usage of music as way to connect ourselves to the world gave the rise to music therapy. But the idea that music has healing and soothing powers is an old one. Greeks worshipped Apollo who was both the god of healing and music. The definition of music therapy according to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is, “Music therapy is the clinical and evidence based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” In other words, music therapy is the use of music to asses and treat (through creating, singing, moving to or listening to music) the needs of individual. These needs can be emotional, social, physical etc.

Music therapy for kids with down syndrome
Music therapy for kids with down syndrome; Source:

Music therapy can be wielded for many purposes. Such as: reduction and managing of stress, depletion of symptoms in schizophrenics, management of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, helping kids with down syndrome etc. It can also improve communication to those who find it difficult to express their feelings in words and provide emotional support to clients. Music also has an effect on how we process emotions in both musicians and ‘non-musicians’ according to functional neuroimaging studies (Koelsch et al., 2009). Furthermore, proper application of music therapy can strengthen our awareness and sensitiveness for positive feelings (Croom, 2012) and improve psychiatric symptoms (Nizamie and Tikka, 2014).

But to reap the benefits of this kind of therapy, one must always consult a music therapist who graduated from an approved music therapy program. A therapist will judge your well-being and skills including emotional well-being, cognitive skills, communication abilities, sociability etc. through responses to music. According to evaluation results, they will then use different activities related to music like receptive music listening, lyric writing, music performance, creating songs etc. and try to help the client achieve their individual goal. It can also be used to therapize in patients such as premature babies, people with depression and can also be utilized to treat pain. Listening and playing music increases the production of those cells in the body that attack invading viruses and can boost the immune system.

Music therapy as a whole, if popularized, can redefine how we approach our physical and mental health. Sometimes, people can’t connect with psychologists and may use music to cope with traumatic experiences. And while using music as a coping mechanism is valid, a professional music therapist can help you out a whole lot more. It is a proven form of therapy and if we know more about it, we can influence others to make use of this. Because to some people, music resonates more than words ever can.

Author: Aura Shahazad
Student, University of Dhaka

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This write-up tells how music therapy works to improve the physical and psychological state of individuals. References are hyperlinked into the write-up.
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