Music – A great therapeutic tool

the boy with the flute
Drawing by Adrian Serghie

   Have you ever heard about music therapy? I’m sure you’ve experienced how music changes your mood or state or mind and because of this, some dudes went deep into this and they set up the bases of this new-ish type of therapy.

“Music therapy is the use of music to improve clients’ quality of life . Music therapy is an evidence-based, clinical use of music interventions. Music Therapy consists of a process in which a music therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients improve their health and quality of life. Music therapists primarily help clients improve their health in several domains, such as cognitive, motor, emotional, communication, social, and educational by using both active and receptive music experiences such as improvisation, re-creation, composition, and receptive methods and discussion of music to achieve treatment goals. There is a wide qualitative and quantitative research literature base for music therapy.” – Wikipedia

   It was shocking to me to find out that there is such thing as music therapy. What’s even more shocking is that no teacher said anything about this in those 5 years I’ve studied psychology. I’m no so shocked to find out that it works. For me, music was always a great counselor and I never knew why. Here’s what Michael Thaut (a professor of music and a professor of neuroscience at Colorado State University) said about neurologic music therapy (NMT): “The brain that engages in music is changed by engaging in music.”

   In short, our brain is reacts to music and the more it reacts, the more those areas are strengthened because neurons that react together create stronger connections. Basically, music can create different paths in our neural network and thanks to it, we can start behaving differently. Scientists do different experiments to see which neurons fire up when the patient listens to music. Based on this, they can see which areas of the brain are improved.

   Of course, there are other types of therapy besides NMT. Other types aim to help people with emotional disorders, children with different mental or physical disorders or even people with different types of dementia (like Alzheimer).

   Music can do more than making people jump up and down at a concert. It has the power to heal. In what circumstances music helped you?

25 thoughts on “Music – A great therapeutic tool

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  1. Music has always been therapeutic, even before it was considered a best practice. In the olden days, music was an entertainment that families and friends gathered for daily. Gatherings were held with the expectation of live music being part of the evening. Most families sang together, or had at least one person in the family that would sing and play piano, guitar, or other instruments. It was a natural part of life. It’s too bad we have gotten away from that!

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  2. I often find that music gives a voice to feelings I’m having that I can’t personally put into words. Sometimes the music gives me words through lyrics, but other times it’s more of a nonverbal experience like when the orderliness and logic of J.S. Bach’s piano music helped comfort me when I felt like my life was falling apart in college!

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  3. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but music can sometimes have the opposite effect on me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE music. But when I’m depressed, listening to a soulful or romantic song helps me wallow in my sorrow. At such moments, I try to listen to upbeat, dance tunes, and they really do make a difference. But I kind of miss the soulful music. I wish I was a stronger person so I could listen to more of it.

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      1. I have a tendency to get so absorbed on what I’m listening to that I feel like I’m surrounded by music. The notes are swirling all around me and I can almost reach out and touch them. I guess it sort of makes me feel connected to something. Singing only adds to that feeling of connection. It allows me to forget what’s bugging me for a short time and just enjoy the moment.

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