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Health Benefits of Music Therapy


by Dr. Mary Williams, R.N. D.C.


Music therapy is a form of healing that uses music to provide care to patients, in a manner that is outside of the box. While this is different than routine physical therapy or prescribing medicine, it should not be thought of as a form of alternative medicine. Clinical studies can vouch for the health benefits of a medically approved music therapy regimen. The beauty of music therapy is that it helps people in a physical, mental, emotional and social way.

Therapists use music therapy in a variety of ways, including having people sing along to the music, meditate and relax while music plays and conduct various exercises and movements with music as the catalyst. When played in conjunction with a person's thoughts or movements, music therapy can help to improve everything from a patient's speech to their memory and physical balance. It also provides emotional healing, helping people to develop positive self-image and aids in prioritizing stress and pain. Music also helps people take their mind off of physical pain, which can help them cope with a number of ailments.

Solid medical research supports the concept that music is healthy for the mind, as it stimulates brain waves. The brain is no different than any organ, in that when it is exercised, it becomes sharper, stronger and more useful. Stimulating the brain via music is the equivalent of developing a stronger heart through cardiovascular exercises. Music directly affects brain waves, as stronger and faster rhythms make people more alert, while slower music can help people meditate and relax. This healthy calming and focusing affect helps people develop a positive mind state, while also reducing stress, which lowers blood pressure.

Music therapy is a very faceted field, with professionally licensed therapists working in a number of sectors, including schools, prisons, physicians' offices, motivational and training practices and more. It's also important to understand that patients do not need to have a musical background of any sort and don't need to be musically inclined in order to participate in music therapy sessions. Their bodies and minds respond to music, so therapy sessions will pay dividends and help soothe their pain or cure a number of mental and physical ailments. Music therapy has been successfully used to help patients of general stress, cancer, speech impediments, high blood pressure and heart problems, mental disorders and a number of other issues. It is a holistic health approach, as it incorporates a number of mental and physical processes.

During sessions, music therapists can tailor their music and expertise to a patients' particular situation. In one session, a therapist might prepare the music and evaluate the patient, while another session might involve the patient picking and bringing in music that they already like, while the therapist leads them in singing, creating and improvising, or conduct exercises to the music. These therapists must be versed in music, and board certified. Typically, these music therapists receive undergraduate degrees in music therapy and complete a number of clinical hours and examinations. Music therapy is an intriguing field, due to its medical properties and all-encompassing practice. Regardless of what type of symptom or ailment a person is dealing with, there is a good chance that music therapists can provide some sort of aid.

For more information on music therapy and its many cognitive, physical and mental benefits, visit the following resources: