Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health and wellbeing (Australian Music Therapy Association, 2013).
Most of us can recall a time when music has influenced our brains, bodies, emotions, memories or thoughts. While a lot of us have experienced these effects first hand, science is now starting to provide a logical explanation for what is happening in our brains when we interact with music and music therapy.
Who can Music Therapy help?
Based on this experience and evidence based research, music therapy involves the intentional use of music and/or elements of music to improve health and wellbeing. While many of us think of young children and older adults when first thinking of music therapy; music therapy can be of benefit across the life range and life trajectory, from neonates and infants, children, teenagers, through to young adults, adults and older adults.
I do find however, that younger children, teens and young adults are particularly drawn to the use of music in therapy due to the important role that music plays during these developmental periods.
What does Music Therapy involve?
Music therapy can involve talking and non-verbal therapies, depending on the preferences and needs of each person. For those of you who are unsure about or new to the concept of music therapy, we will often start with talking therapies before slowly introducing elements of music. However, some people choose to come to music therapy for music and non-verbal expression.
Common music-based interventions we can use in our sessions include:
- Music listening, lyric and music discussions
- Therapeutic songwriting and therapeutic improvisation
Using music in therapy allows you to connect sensory, emotional, memory and thinking parts of the brain and bring language to an experience that is sometimes difficult to explain. This process can also increase blood flow to the parts of your brain that manage physiological, sensory, emotional, behaviour and attention regulation.
What types of concerns can Music Therapy help with?
Evidence for use of music therapy is growing with current research suggesting that music therapy can address emotional, neurological, cognitive, social, spiritual, behavioural, sensory, and somatic aspects of many conditions and presentations, including: mental illness recovery, traumatic stress, addictions, cancer treatment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, acquired brain injury, Alzheimer’s Disease, grief and loss, palliative care and family relationships. Music therapy is also used to address life transitions, identity development and self-awareness.
Music therapy is often used in conjunction with other therapies including neuropsychotherapy, CBT, ACT, narrative therapy, meditation, mindfulness and other expressive therapies.
~ Claire Stephensen, Registered Music Therapist at Little Window.
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