Music Therapy Explained
With the application and intervention of music therapy, a clinician uses music to assist a person with emotional, mental, physical and social needs. Creating and listening to music and sounds amidst a therapeutic experience is a way for clients to create change nonverbally. In music therapy, a sense of calm and stability is achieved through the senses stimulation of rhythm, harmony, melody, specific tonalities, instruments, and sound devices. A person’s heart rate, breathing and internal biophysical changes can take place by listening to or creating music. Through research, music therapy has been classified as an evidence-based practice, proving among other things that music therapy can boost dopamine levels, resulting in feeling better. The type of music therapy is facilitated and adjusted for individual or group needs.
Music Therapy for Treatment of Drugs and Alcohol
It can be stressful entering rehab for a variety of reasons, and the treatment team is there to assist each client. Many approaches for stress reduction, decreasing anxiety, lowering cortisol levels, helping the client sleep, returning to homeostasis can all be achieved by the evidence-based intervention of Music Therapy.
Why Does Music Therapy Work?
Most every person in every culture around the world is drawn to music for celebration, ritual, religious purposes, expression, meditation, entertainment, social gatherings, communication, relaxation, and community building. Music has also been shown to assist farther outside the human realm and assist in the plant and animal kingdom for healing and relaxation.
A study in Finland denoted that there looks to be three main reasons why music therapy works:
- People listening to music have shown an elevated dopamine response by a sensory involvement of the experience and connecting them in ways traditional therapy may not have.
- Music therapy can utilize rhythm to get clients moving and active, thus creating endorphins, lowering depression, and reducing stress.
- There is a relational aspect that connects us through music, allowing the client to engage, express, and form a relationship built in trust with a facilitator and/or group. Subsequently, music therapy relieves isolation and loneliness.
Categories of Music Therapy: Active and Passive
The approaches of music therapy are generally categorized into “active” or “passive.” The sessions are mostly improvised and collaborative with therapist and client.
Active therapy is when in a session a client or group and will work with a music therapist, composing with an instrument or vocals. There are times when movement and dance becomes involved, though this is mainly an organic response. The client or group is then asked to process the session on what may have surfaced regarding thoughts, images, and emotions. Throughout the active sessions, the client can then gain a deeper understanding on how this relates to other issues they are facing.
Passive therapy with music is when listening is involved as the client or group is engaged in another activity such as drawing or painting, meditating, writing, or reflecting on an event. The music is often calming and meditative. They will process the feelings with the therapist after the listening to see if there were emotions or memories evoked.
How Valid is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy is an evidence-based intervention clinically proven that by the use of music it can treat individuals to accomplish goals, change behavior, and gain insight. Music Therapy is conducted by a professional and credentialed therapist who has completed courses and the necessary hours by an approved music therapy program.
What are Some Ways Music Therapy Helps?
Music Therapy addresses the overall health and well-being of a client. After an initial assessment, the qualified music therapist will individualize a treatment program that may include, composing, listening, singing, moving, creating, with the client.
With the valuable outcomes of music therapy, the client’s abilities and confidence are strengthened and improved in other areas and increases interest in the treatment process.
The American Music Therapy Association’s website refers to several specific studies to prove that music therapy is viable and is considered an Evidence-Based Therapy for people suffering from depression and anxiety. In addition, music therapy helps with:
- Physical issues by reducing muscle tension, and stress
- Emotional function
- Improve communication
- Decrease symptoms of Mood and Personality disorders
- Increased motor control and coordination
- Expansion of creativity
- Increase in self-efficacy
- Increase in motivation
Music Therapy is used with people in recovery, children on the Autism Spectrum, Alzheimer’s patients, Disabled Adults, and people looking to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.
Examples of Music Therapy:
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) supports the use of music for all, though believes that clinical music therapy must be facilitated by professional and qualified therapists which approach the therapeutic model: based from research and is an applied science.
- Music therapists have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in music therapy from an approved AMTA college and have received 1200 hours of clinical sessions and training
- Music therapists have an MT-BC credential, passing the exam.
- Music Therapy is evidence-based.
Below are examples of music being used for therapeutic outcomes, but would not be considered a clinical musical therapy session:
- A client listening to their favorite song
- Rock Musicians visiting a rehab facility
- Celebrities visiting patients at hospitals and schools and performing
- A guitar player visiting a nursing home
- A piano player in the lobby of a hospital
- Singing with friends at a drug rehab facility
Credentialed Music Therapists would be inclined to engage in sessions such as:
- Working with a Police Officer or Politician after a surviving a wound.
- Working with children to reduce stress after a school shooting.
- Working with patients in the hospital to reduce stress pre-operation or pain.
- Working with children that have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (AUD)
- Working with children and adults in correctional facilities to reduce violence.
- Working with people who have suffered memory loss to improve cognitive functioning.
- Working in a group home to create harmony and cohesion among residents.
Healing Through Music Throughout History
It seems that music has been around since the latter part of the evolution of Homo Sapiens. Flutes made of bird bones have been discovered to be 40,000 years old, hypothesized amongst scientists that this is an era that birthed creativity with hominoids. Music in modern human civilizations has had known uses for healing, expression, harmony with nature, entertainment, and social connections.
In ancient Greece, philosophers and healers purposely used music for therapeutic means. Civilians who were highly anxious or in manic states were asked to listen to calming flute melodies, while those with depression were prescribed the dulcimer. Structures for the specific needs of healing people through music were built throughout Ancient Greece, resulting in that music was an integral part of the societies well-being.
The modern practice of music therapy developed somewhere between World War I and World War II to assist with the trauma combat soldiers faced in order for reintegration into society. Though it was not termed PTSD at the time, the soldiers returning from war were diagnosed with a condition called “shell shock.” Many had been considered to have this condition, as well as suffering from physical injuries. Community musicians visited veteran hospitals to play for the soldiers as they were healing from combat, relieving boredom, providing entertainment, and uplifting moods. The physicians and nurses on staff were noticing that the patients had a variety of positive reactions, including physical wounds healing faster due to the decreased stress levels. The doctors started hiring musicians on a regular basis, and this new treatment gained popularity.
Seeing the results from music in a hospital setting, the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) was founded in 1950. NAMT thus created standards for education and training of the applicants wishing to pursue a career utilizing Music Therapy. Through the next four decades, conducted research projects proved Music Therapy a viable intervention. In 1998 the American Music Therapy (AMTA) was formed as a merger of NAMT and American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT). After the two entities were united, AMTA became a worldwide leading organization for therapists, students, and supporters of the field. Its’ mission is education and advocacy of the benefits of Music Therapy for all. AAMT is the largest music therapy association on the planet which has had over 5,000 music therapists as members, is available in 30 different countries.
Music Therapy Needs No Musical Ability
Though it might sound strange, music therapy does not mean clients need to ever have sung a perfect note or played an instrument. A qualified Music Therapist will help a client break through fears of creating music which does not have to do with performance. Often times, a client will engage in listening to music (passive sessions) to decrease stress levels. A client should never feel more anxious in the music therapy process. Music Therapy sessions are designed to help a person’s well-being and improvement.
All styles and types of musical genres can be beneficial. This comes down to a client’s preference, background, needs, and reasons for treatment. Music Therapy is not performance based but is a process-oriented therapy utilized to obtain positive outcomes. The session may include, listening, playing several instruments, movement, singing, sounding, and writing.
I’ve Got the Music in Me: how music connects to the body
What exactly causes the body to relax when listening to music? In a book entitled “This is Your Brain on Music” (Levitin, D. Plume/Penguin, 2007), the neuroscientist author states that through research there were findings that listening and engaging in music increases the physical body’s production of cells that decrease virus levels and increase the immune system. Certain specific genres of music have also proven to decrease hormones such as cortisol, which is the culprit for stress. In one of these studies, it was found that pre-surgery patients had a more effective stress reduction rate than those who took prescription drugs to reduce anxiety levels. This was published in April 2013 in Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
The vibrational foundation of music may be the key to understanding music’s success in improving well-being. Researchers are currently exploring how sound vibrations that travel through a body can ease physical and psychological symptoms. At the University of Toronto, in Canada, Dr. Lee Bartel is studying if musical vibrations can be used to alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia, depression, and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Bartel has the patient lie on a bed or sit in a chair that is surrounded by embedded speakers. During the session, which Bartel has coined “ vibroacoustic therapy” there are sounds transmitted causing vibrations that the client directly hears and feels in their body. The vibroacoustic therapy is being developed to be utilized for specific protocols that will serve as interventions to existing neurological conditions and provide help for memory loss and cognitive impairment.
Who is Considered a Qualified Music Therapist?
While there is nothing wrong to engage in a group during treatment that participates in singing, playing instruments, reads lyrics, or writes songs, engaging in music therapy should be facilitated by a qualified therapist.
Students who graduate from colleges and universities from accredited Music Therapy Programs are subsequently eligible to take a national exam governed by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Upon passing the exam, the candidate will receive their MT-BC credential and will be able to have a professional practice as a Music Therapist. Other legitimate credentials are Registered Music Therapist (RMT), Certified Music Therapist (CMT) and Advanced Certified Music Therapist (ACMT). Without these certified credentials, a therapist should not represent themselves as a qualified Music Therapist. An MFT or LCSW can use music in their therapy sessions and in doing so would only be considered using music as a tool for their practice, just like having a client make a drawing for discussion, without being a certified Art Therapist.
Music Therapy interns may be obtaining their clinical hours while attending school. These individuals will work under the supervision and certification of a Music Therapist.
Certified Music Therapists work in treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, mental health facilities, behavioral health facilities, outpatient clinics, group homes, medical hospitals, children’s hospitals, individual sessions, and correctional facilities.
Music Therapy at Vogue Recovery Center
Music and art have an ability to weave through us and bring us the truth that we otherwise would have missed. At Vogue, we invite professional performers to be our artists in residence and provide meaningful musical and interactive experiences for our guests. Through the therapeutic power of art and music, you will access new ideas and feelings that will guide and transform your journey into long-term life change. With Music Therapy, the music is the medium of communication with the therapist is music. It is a creative and integral part of our ever-enduring holistic approach to recovery and treatment. Some basic applications include listening and interpreting sounds, listening and interpreting lyrics, attempting to relate to words and sounds, etc. As always with Vogue Recovery, this type of therapy is altered to each individual’s unique situation and skill set. Our clients have invariably raved about the benefits of music and art therapy, oftentimes expressing their profound shock as to how well it works. To learn more about our world-class program and luxury approach, call 1-877-437-6408 today.