For ages, people have turned to music to get excited, calm down, share experiences, and more. Over time, scientific research has shown that this natural affinity for tunes is much more than a feeling—music can have powerful healing qualities.
Music therapy applies those scientific findings to enhance music’s power and help people heal to improve their physical, emotional, mental, social or even spiritual well-being.
Many different groups have been shown to benefit from music therapy, including:
Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Music therapy has been shown to improve social behaviors, boost focus, reduce anxiety, and even enhance body awareness and coordination for people with ASD, as detailed in a study in Journal of Music Therapy.
Music therapy can enhance the quality of life of oncology patients in many ways, including by reducing pain and anxiety, boosting mood, and improving heart rate and blood pressure. Cancer.org cites a review of studies reflecting these impacts, and music therapists are part of many cancer management teams.
Soldiers with PTSD
Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) gained an opportunity to better express and control their feelings and build a sense of connectedness through improvisation on hand drums, as cited in this Huffington Post article.
Special needs children
Most children engage with music quickly, so it can serve as a strong motivator to encourage kids with special needs to make requests, develop motor skills, and complete challenging activities. This post from Friendship Circle shares how.
For dementia patients, an aptitude and appreciation for music is one of the abilities that stays with them the longest. Music can be used to improve patients’ mood, manage stress-induced agitation, encourage positive social engagement, and prompt cognitive functioning, according to Alzheimers.net.
Individuals with depression
For people suffering from depression, music can provide a catharsis and much-needed way to connect with others through joint improvisation. Creating music also enables people to positively experience their physical being. These are critical elements of depression recovery, as explained in this BJPsych article.
For pain management
Music provides sensory stimulation that causes patients with chronic pain to relax, reduces stress, boosts their mood, and reduces the patient’s perceived pain level. As explained by Everyday Health, patient learns to relax automatically while listening to music with practice.
Combining the Art and Science of Music
These are only some of the ways music therapy is improving lives. When the art and science behind music combine, they create a powerful therapy technique that can stimulate and heal us, both body and soul. With thousands of certified musical therapists in America today, many different kinds of patients experience the healing powers of music each year.