Most people may not know about the health benefits of music therapy which is now used in a holistic manner for many healthy concerns. In fact, music therapy may even sound absurd or a waste of time.
Let’s define music therapy. Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.
At its hub, music is sound, and sound is entrenched in vibration. Led by Lee Bartel, PhD, a music professor at the University of Toronto, several researchers are exploring whether sound vibrations absorbed through the body can help ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia and depression. Known as vibroacoustic therapy, the intervention involves using low frequency sound — similar to a low rumble — to produce vibrations that are applied directly to the body.
Music therapy has been effectively used to help with stress, cancer, speech impediments, high blood pressure, heart concerns, mental disorders as well as a number of health concerns. Music therapy is a holistic health approach in supporting the body’s natural healing abilities.
While there are many different ways to use music therapy, using music therapy for pain has shown good results. Music therapy is shown to lower stress levels associated with chronic pain, improve comfort and manage pain for people of all ages. Notably the ability of rhythm to reduce pain is observed among patients in cancer wards and nursing homes.
Health Benefits of Music Therapy
- elevates mood
- supports immune system health
- promotes easier movement for physical rehabilitation
- counteracts apprehension or fear
- lessens muscle tension for the purpose of relaxation
- stimulates brainwaves
- can slow breathing and heart rates
- assists in relieving daily aches and pains
- improves cognitive performance
- facilitates relaxation
- boost for physical activity
- catharsis when dealing with emotional stress
- improves depression
- improves anxiety
- improves communication skills in children with autism
- shown to reduce anxiety in patients receiving radiation therapy
- eases nausea and vomiting resulting from high-dose chemotherapy
- increases the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells — the cells that attack invading viruses
- reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol
- can help soothe pediatric emergency room patients
- improves sleep quality
- helps people to eat less
- eases migraine symptoms
- eases PMS symptoms
As a 20-year former private piano teacher and a 15+ year stage 3 cancer survivor, I can personally attest to the many health benefits of music therapy. I have witnessed the calming ability of music as well as the ability of music to lift one’s spirit and emotional situation. Music can literally soothe our innermost being as well as calm the constant chatter of the mind. And these benefits of music therapy have no age barrier – from tiny babies to senior adults – music therapy can indeed be very beneficial.
To find a music therapist in your area, contact the American Music Therapy Association at 301-589-3300 or at the organization’s website at https://www.musictherapy.org/about/find/
References and Resources
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Magill, L. & Berenson, S. (2008). The conjoint use of music therapy and reflexology with hospitalized advanced stage cancer patients and their families. Palliat Support Care. 6(3):289-96.
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Smith M, Casey L, Johnson D, Gwede C, Riggin OZ. “Music as a therapeutic intervention for anxiety in patients receiving radiation therapy.” Oncol Nurs Forum. 2001 28(5):855-62.
Harmat, L., Takacs, J., and Bodizs, R. Semmelweis University, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Budapest, Hungary. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Music improves sleep quality in students. 2008 May;62(3):327-35.
Drazen, DL and Woods, SC. Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Ohio. Peripheral signals in the control of satiety and hunger. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 2003 Nov;6(6):621-9.
Huang, TL and Charyton, C. Transparent Corporation, Columbus, Ohio. A comprehensive review of the psychological effects of brainwave entrainment. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 2008 Sep-Oct;14(5):38-50.
Angel, LA, Poizella, DJ, Elvers, GC. Background music and cognitive performance. University of Dayton, USA. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 2010 Jun;110(3 Pt 2):1059-64.