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. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.
American Music Therapy Association definition, 2005) The istory of music being thought of as a resource to be used as therapy goes back to writings of Aristotle and Plato. The first documented reference to music therapy was in the 1700’s. Music therapy has been being used for hundreds of years in hospital and psychiatric settings. Studies have shown that music therapy can lower blood pressure, improve sleep and reduce anxiety. Cancer patients who get music therapy in addition to chemotherapy report less nausea, anxiety and pain in the initial phases of treatment.
Stroke patients who get music therapy not only have more motivation and better moods, but an mprovement in their movement recovery. The sensory and intellectual stimulation of music can help maintain a person’s quality of life. Moreover, music therapy may benefit children and adults with developmental disabilities and adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Because music therapy is closely linked to other forms of stress reduction, it might also be helpful for depression, anxiety disorders and memory enhancement. Haltzman)
Music therapists are often hired in schools to provide music therapy services listed on the Individualized Education Plan for mainstreamed special learners. Music earning is used to strengthen nonmusical areas such as communication skills and physical coordination skills which are important for daily life. Music therapy allows persons with mental health needs to: explore personal feelings, make positive changes in mood and emotional states, have a sense of control over life through successful experiences, practice problem solving, and resolve conflicts leading to stronger family and peer relationships.
“American Music Therapy Association”)Music therapy is based on the principle that the body responds to passive music listening, active music roduction and sharing the experience of music with others. The brain, experts theorize, is programmed to respond music’s regular beat and rhythm. Slower beats can slow down brain waves down and induce relaxation; faster beats can stimulate the brain. (Haltzman) While researchers haven’t completely tested out these theories, we do know that the part of the brain involved in musical awareness is closely linked to the part that controls emotions.
It’s also a generally accepted medical truth that reducing stress can help people control the symptoms of illnesses. (Haltzman) There are thousands of scientific studies on he research of music therapy that i have come across. I have listed just a few that I feel have significant value to validate that research supports that music therapy is a legitimate alternative therapy, and that it does work. In 1983, Hanser, Larson, and O’Connell studied the use of music to enhance relaxation and decrease pain responses in mothers during childbirth.
The music therapists used music to cue rhythmic breathing, assist the mothers in relaxation, prompt positive associations, and help focus attention on the music as a diversion from pain and hospital sounds. A small sample of seven Lamaze-trained others was used and subjects served as their own controls. Two individual music therapy sessions were conducted with the subjects prior to the birth experiences. In the first session the music therapist established rapport and determined the musical preferences of the mother.
Prior to the second session the music therapist developed an individualized music program for each mom. During the second session the mothers were familiarized with their music programs and instructed in relaxation and breathing techniques. The music therapists attended the births and monitored music during the experience. During labor each mother experienced periods of music and non-music and were observed under both conditions. Observations of tension and relaxation in various parts of the body were made and recorded.
Two other relaxation behaviors, breathing and verbalization were observed and recorded as positive, negative, or neutral. During the delivery phase the music therapists played music that was specially selected by each mother and her coach. One week after the delivery each mother was given a post-delivery questionnaire and was asked how the music helped her concentrate, relax, and whether it elped with rhythmic breathing.
Results indicated that all of the mothers had fewer pain responses in the music vs. o-music condition, and that music aided concentration, relaxation, cued breathing, and diverted attention from pain. Coaches and hospital staff also responded well to the music, indicating that the music made a positive contribution to the labor and delivery experience. (Hanser) In a crossover study of music therapy for children who are developmentally delayed, the children in the initial treatment group change more than the children on the waiting list. When the waiting list group are treated and then tested, the newly treated children catch up in their development.
Such changes can be demonstrated at a level of clinical significance. There is a continuing improvement in hearing and speech, hand-eye co-ordination, and personal- social interaction. Music therapy seems to have an effect on personal relationship, emphasizing the positive benefits of active listening and performing, and this in turn sets the context for developmental change. A further investigation of the data revealed the importance of hand-eye co-ordination for developmental changes.
The active element of musical playing, which demands the skill of hand-eye co-ordination, appears to play a significant role in developmental changes as they occur in the therapeutic musical relationship. (Aldridge) A new Finnish study finds that combining music therapy with a standard treatment for depression – medication, plus psychotherapy and counseling – improves patient outcomes. Researchers from the University of Jyvaskyla recruited 79 people between the ages of 18 and 50 years old who had been diagnosed with depression. Nauert)Thirty-three of the participants were offered 0 music therapy sessions, in addition to their usual treatment for depression. The other 46 participants received standard treatment, and acted as the control group.
In the final analysis, researchers discovered that after three months of participation, individuals who received music therapy demonstrated significantly fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, and scored better on general functioning. (Nauert)Co-researcher Christian Gold, Ph. D. elaborated on the study findings: “Our trial has shown that music therapy, when added to standard care including medication, psychotherapy and counselling, helps eople to improve their levels of depression and anxiety. Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a non-verbal way – even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences. “Music therapy also appeared to provide a method to allow people to let go, or to release suppressed feelings.
Co- researcher Jaakko Erkkila, Ph. D. , reported, “We found that people often expressed their inner pressure and feelings by drumming or with the tones produced with a mallet instrument. Some people described their playing experience as cathartic. Outside experts believe this study shows that music therapy is an effective adjunct to traditional therapy and improves outcomes. (Nauert) Research showed music interventions significantly ameliorate anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue in cancer patients, especially adults.
Music interventions were more effective in adults than in children or adolescents and more effective when patients, rather than researchers, chose the music. (Tsai, “Effectiveness of Music Intervention in Ameliorating Cancer Patients’ Anxiety, Depression, Pain, and Fatigue”) I would use music therapy as nursing interventions in everal different ways. First I would use it as a distractor for patients that are in pain, or undergoing a stressful procedure. I would also use it to help alter anxious, depressed, and angry patient’s moods.
I would also use it for its calming effect on patients that are anxious or stressed. I would use it for patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia to calm agitation, facilitate communication, and to help with memory in the early stages. For cancer patients I would use it before and during chemotherapy to distract from pain, alleviate nausea, and calm them. For children I would use it as a leisure activity, to calm their fear, help distract them from pain, and soothe them for sleep. A music session may have different objectives depending on the person, their health problem and their age.
It can aim at: helping the confused person to recall the past thanks to a known melody; diminishing stress and anxiety; enabling the person to rediscover their hidden emotions; favoring the expression of feelings and emotions; creating reactions in the person who has become apathetic and silent; helping cerebral evolution during the period of plasticity following a stroke; heering the sad or nostalgic person, stimulating those who are bored, bringing them moments of pleasure; helping the child and the adolescent to better accept their treatment; helping the patient to sleep; calming agitation, fear and hostility; helping the suffering person to relax which diminishes the pain which is augmented by anxiety; favoring the action of analgesics; slowing respiration and lowering arterial tension; establishing communication with the autistic or schizophrenic patient; contributing to a healthier lifestyle for the cancer patient; assisting those at the end of life.