Music is a universal language. It has the ability to make us feel deeply or be as light as a kite. Even if we can’t understand the words, we somehow can still interpret the message through the rhythm and beats of the song. Sometimes there aren’t even words to a song and we still get the message that is trying to be conveyed. Music can also alter your mood. That is why it is used as a form of therapy for people who suffer from mental health issues such as depression, insomnia, dementia, schizophrenia, substance dependency, autism, personality issues, and anxiety.
During music therapy sessions, music is incorporated in different ways. According to https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/music-therapy “the intervention methods employed in music therapy can be roughly divided into active and receptive techniques. When a person is making music, whether by singing, chanting, playing musical instruments, composing, or improvising music, that person is using active techniques. Receptive techniques, on the other hand, involve listening to and responding to music, such as through dance or the analysis of lyrics. Active and receptive techniques are often combined during treatment, and both are used as starting points for the discussion of feelings, values, and goals”. So whether a person is actually making music or simply listening to music they are benefitting either way. When engaging in music therapy, you can do it individually or in a group setting, there are benefits to each.
Music therapy is also not about just playing and/or listening to music either. From the same website mentioned above, they mentioned several ways that music helps rehabilitate people with different ailments such as:
•When a person experiences difficulty communicating after a stroke, singing words or short phrases set to a simple melody can often enhance speech production and fluency.
•A person with impaired motor skills might improve fine motor skills by playing simple melodies on a piano or tapping out a rhythm on drum pads. Listening to a rhythmic stimulus, such as a metronome, can also help a person initiate, coordinate, and time their movements.
•A therapist might play a piece of music for children with autism who have limited social skills and ask them to imagine the emotional state of the person who created the music or the person who is playing it. Doing so can help a person with autism develop or strengthen the ability to consider the emotions others are experiencing.
•Group drumming circles have been used to induce relaxation, provide an outlet for feelings, and foster social connectedness among members of a group. Group members might sit in a circle with a hand drum while the therapist leads them in drumming activities that may involve group members drumming one at a time or all at once. Those who are part of the circle may be asked to express how they feel by playing a rhythm on their drum or the group might be asked to improvise music as a means of increasing group cohesiveness.
•Music might be incorporated into guided imagery or progressive muscle relaxation techniques to enhance the effectiveness of these methods.
All in all, music is a very powerful tool to heal the mind, body and spirit when used appropriately. It is a great holistic alternative to pharmacological methods as well. When considering using music therapy it is best to consult with your therapist or another professional to see if it is in your best interest to do so. Music is a wonderful way to express yourself, sharpen your skills and connect with others. Why not give yourself the chance to make beautiful music!
By, Garcsa Brooks
Intern, Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.