Music therapy is used to treat patients suffering from a wide variety of ailments, according to the American Music Therapy Association. It is not only used as a technique to treat emotional or mental issues, but it has even been shown to be effective in helping to treat patients suffering from physical ailments.
Music therapy itself is considered to be a profession within allied health. A music therapist attempts to grasp the various powers of music – including the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and aesthetic natures of music- to offer a therapy to clients that can help improve a wide variety of factors. Some of the factors and problems treated by this type of therapy include motor skill deficiencies, emotional development problems, impaired cognition and quality of life issues.
There are a variety of different approaches that are used in applying music-based therapy to the treatment of patients. Different approaches are often used according to the age of the patient. Different approaches are also used according to the patient’s particular ailment. Some examples of different approaches include Neurologic, Orff-Shulwerk, the Dalcroze Eurhythmics method, Nordoff-Robins and the Kodaly method.
Music-based therapy treatment in children
Paul Nordoff, a pianist who graduated from the Juilliard School in New York City, devoted his life to the development of his own therapeutic theory after observing how strongly and positively children, particularly disabled children, reacted to music. His approach to music-based therapy focuses on the philosophy that every person is capable of enjoying benefits because of an experience of music.
The Orff Music Therapy approach, like the Nordoff-Robins approach, also is often used in pediatrics to provide therapy to young patients with development delays. This approach thrives on the multi-sensory nature of musical experiences and tends to involve allowing the patient receiving therapy to participate in the production of the music himself or herself.
Music is sometimes used during pregnancy to provide therapy to an unborn child. According to technologies like ultrasound, a child will respond to music in the womb. A fetus’ ear structure has become fully developed by the time the fetus is at the beginning of the second trimester of the pregnancy. Therefore, prenatal therapy is sometimes offered to pregnant women to allow for stress relief before birth, to assist in bonding between the mother and the growing fetus, or to assist in language development in the child before birth.
Therapy for premature infants
Therapy based on musical experiences has repeatedly been shown to be successful in stimulating growth and increasing the chances of a positive outcome for infants that are born premature. Infants born before 37 weeks of gestation are susceptible to many different development problems.
Music-based therapy provided to help treat premature infants can involve listening to both live music and music recordings, attempting to encourage the child’s sucking reflex through music, stimulate the infant to be active and encouraging a bond between the parents and the prematurely born child.
While music therapy is instrumental in treating children who are not able to communicate, it can also be used to treat certain neurological conditions in older patients. These conditions include depression, amnesia and schizophrenia. Music therapy can also be used to treat physical medical problems, such as stroke and heart disease. Music can have a profound effect on all individuals; harnessing its power is a great benefit for today’s psychological community.