Understanding Music Therapy | Does Music Help Us Heal?
Studies have shown that music has a profound impact on the mental and physical health of a person. Different genres can instantly change a person’s mood and unbox a variety of emotions like joy, enthusiasm, melancholy and tranquility. Since it has a positive impact on our psychology, music is often used to heal people and keep several serious health conditions at bay.
Evidence shows that music can help in the treatment of several conditions like Alzheimer’s and heart ailments; reduce stress and boost our memory and self-esteem among other things.
What is music therapy?
Music therapy is the clinical application of music to achieve specific objectives including stress reduction, mood enhancement and self-expression. It is a well-known, evidence-based therapy in the medical field that involves listening to music, singing, playing an instrument or even writing songs. Not only can one benefit on a psychological, emotional, physical, spiritual, cognitive, and social level, but also one does not any musical aptitude or skills for it.
How does music therapy work?
The effect of music on the brain is quite complex. Various parts of the brain process each component of music, including pitch, speed, and melody. For instance, the frontal lobes decipher the emotional impulses produced by the music; the cerebellum handles rhythm and a little fraction of the right temporal lobe aids in pitch understanding. When exposed to intense music, the reward center of the brain called nucleus accumbens can even cause strong physical indicators of pleasure, such as goosebumps. These profound bodily responses to music are used in music therapy to even support those who are dealing with mental health issues.
Who do music therapists work with?
People from different walks of life, ethnicities and cultures can benefit from music therapy. Some of these include:
● Service personnel and veterans in the military
● Those who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
● People who are incarcerated — For those in mental health facilities, halfway or group homes and prisons, music therapy can be extremely beneficial as it aids in relaxation, reduces impulsiveness and sharpens problem-solving and communication skills.
● Trauma and crisis victims — Those who experience a trauma or crisis may go through anxiety, stress and agony. Music therapy gives these victims a non-verbal outlet for their feelings and improves their mood, thereby making them feel more confident and under control.
● Those who are afflicted physically — The list includes, but is not limited to, those who are in rehab, have recently undergone surgery, have diabetes, cancer, heart disease or chronic pain.
● Those suffering from mental illnesses — Music therapy helps one express oneself and communicate better; explore ideas and feelings, enhance mood and attention and learn coping mechanisms if one is dealing with a mental health problem.
● Those affected by persistent discomfort can lessen their pain, anxiety, weariness and sadness with music therapy.
● Addicts — If you suffer from a substance addiction disorder, music therapy can be extremely beneficial.
Benefits of Music Therapy
Music has an edge over verbal therapies. Learning and practicing a piece, for instance, can enhance one’s memory, coordination, understanding and reading and math skills while also teaching one about responsibility and endurance.
The sense of pride that comes along with composing music can help lift people’s spirits and boost their confidence. People can also learn about many different cultures through music therapy since it allows them to experiment with any style or genre.
Although regular therapy includes self-expression, people can express themselves more creatively through music, which can be a more fun method to work by challenging emotions. Another method to process challenging feelings, experiences or memories is lyric analysis. For instance, if someone is struggling to express themselves, they can find meanings in the lyrics of songs and even provide alternative lyrics insured from their own experiences. This can help them find the words that best express their feelings. The following are a few of the proven advantages of music therapy:
● Increased self-worth
● Reduced anxiety
● Higher motivation
● Effective and secure discharge of emotion
● Greater communication and interpersonal relationships
● Lower blood pressure and respiration (breathing) rate
● Enhanced motor learning or processing
● Increased calmness and better sleep
● Improved gait (walking) and speaking
● Reduced asthma attacks
● Lessened pain
● Weight gain and better sleep in premature babies
● Enhancing the motor skills of those with Parkinson’s Disease
The Effects of Music Therapy
Music therapy can greatly improve our lives in a variety of ways. Vowel sounds can be practiced, for instance, by singing, which encourages one to speak and express oneself better.
Although it cannot completely cure one of any physical or mental disease, music therapy is a useful and pleasurable tool for reducing negative emotions and increasing positive ones. These benefits can then go on to positively affect the other areas of one’s life thereby improving it personally and professionally.
Rayyan is a 2nd year undergrad pursuing MBBS from HBTMC, Mumbai. He is an avid writer and almost always finds himself on the other side of the screen typing away or tweeting. Deeply passionate about football, academia, medicine and teaching, not necessarily in the same order.