Very popular in recent years, music therapy has the distinction of using music as a therapeutic means. In this article, you will discover what is music therapy used for, what is music therapy in detail, its principles, its history, its benefits, how a session unfolds, and how to train in music therapy.

There has always been a therapeutic effect on music. The ancients and traditional cultures regarded it as sacred science. It is even believed that music has already served to reduce sexual tension in primitive societies. In America, music therapy officially entered the early 20th century, during the First World War, to relieve wounded soldiers. In Quebec, thanks to Thérèse Pageau, one of Canada’s pioneers, veterans and patients suffering from psychiatric disorders were treated by music therapy.

Thinking that music makes it possible to harmonize the body and the mind, Jacques Jost set up music therapy sessions in 1954. During this same period, the first music therapy association was born in America. In France, since 1970, research and experimentation carried out in hospitals have made it possible to integrate music therapy in more than 400 health centers.What Is Music Therapy Used For?

I – What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the use of music, sound in a process of care. It is a non-verbal support therapy using sound, music. Music is the mediator in the caring / nurtured relationship. Music therapy is part of the field of support therapies, help to the patient with pathology.

In other words, music therapy is a form of therapy that uses music as a means of treating or responding to a given problem. Because it reaches people “in the heart of themselves”, music is a privileged means of expression, which allows the individual to “bring out” his sufferings and emotions. Thus, in music therapy, sounds and rhythms become instruments for increasing one’s creativity, reconnecting with oneself and treating various health problems.

As a tool for personal growth, music can increase its dynamism as well as improve cognitive (attention, memory), psychomotor (agility, coordination, mobility) and socio-affective abilities. Although music therapy was initially reserved for psychotherapy, its therapeutic aims have since become much broader. What’s more, no musical knowledge is needed to take advantage of music therapy.

Three dimensions of music therapy are described: active, receptive music therapy and psycho-musical relaxation.

– The active music therapy that makes the patient actor of his therapy.

– Receptive music therapy focused on listening to musical works that allow patients to verbalize their emotions.

– Relaxation and musical relaxation: This concept is based on the judicious use of music for the purpose of physical and psychological relaxation.

The sessions consist of the broadcast of a musical montage developed by a music therapist who takes into account the state of tensions and the musical tastes of the person.

II – The Main Principles of Music Therapy

Evaluation: Is everyone receptive to music? Some people are more sensitive to music than others, and the emotions of given music are not always the same for two different individuals. A study of 30 subjects revealed that nearly 5% of them would not be sensitive to music and would not feel any pleasure in listening to it, we are talking about musical anhedonia. Medical imaging studies have found that in these individuals, the connections between reward-related and noise-related regions were lower than in other individuals. Everyone is not receptive to music.

Depending on the personality, affections, and goals of the individual, the music therapist can use two approaches.

– “Active” music therapy facilitates self-expression. She favors intervention techniques such as singing, instrumental or gestural improvisation, songwriting and the performance of rhythmic movements to the sound of music.

– In “receptive” mode, listening to music can stimulate creative energy and help increase concentration and memory. Music can also bring out emotions, sometimes forgotten or deeply buried. The therapist will be able to use these emotions to enrich the therapeutic approach and to put the music back to work.

III – The Benefits of Music Therapy

Therapeutic applications of music therapy are very numerous. But it can be difficult to know precisely to what extent these effects are directly attributable to music therapy. Interventions (choice of music, length of session, intensity, etc.) and measurements vary greatly from one study to another. In addition, the size of the samples from the majority of studies is often insufficient to allow for really clear conclusions. That being said, the main therapeutic applications of music therapy having been evaluated by scientific studies deserve to be presented, here is a non-exhaustive list of the benefits of music therapy:

1 – Improve Mood

Several studies indicate that music therapy can help improve mood in a variety of populations. This would have positive effects on hospitalized patients by making the hospital stay more enjoyable for them and their family members. It would limit the mood disturbances associated with autologous stem cell transplantation and help improve the mood of long-term care workers.

2 – Reduce Anxiety

Due to its physiological effect, relaxing music can reduce pain and anxiety by lowering the cortisol (a stress-associated hormone) and releasing endorphins that have both calming, analgesic and euphoric properties. Music therapy is recommended as an adjunct to medical care for hospitalized individuals. In addition, clinical trials have shown the effectiveness of music therapy in reducing anxiety in palliative care during various medical procedures (pre-operative and post-operative) in the management of chronic low back pain. and with patients with respiratory problems or heart problems. However, most studies have found no long-term effect.

3 – Contribute to the Relief of Pain

As with anxiety, many articles have been published about pain relief using music therapy. It would help reduce the use of morphine and other sedatives, anxiolytics, and analgesics. In addition, it would allow a decrease in the perception of pain and greater tolerance to it. Among other things, research has reported a reduction in pain symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, musculoskeletal disorders, and osteoarthritis. Music therapy has also proven effective against chronic pain, back pain, and headaches, as well as a palliative, post-anesthetic, intensive and neonatal care. She has also been helpful during surgery or various medical procedures.

4 – Improving the Quality of Life of People with Schizophrenia

Results from clinical trials published in 2005 indicate that music therapy can help improve the overall condition, mental health and social functioning of people with schizophrenia. For example, the results of a clinical trial revealed a decrease in social isolation as well as an increased interest in external events and the ability to interact with others. For the moment, most studies have found these results in the short and medium term.

5 – Contribute to the Relief of Certain Symptoms of Autism

Studies have documented the positive effects of music therapy on children and adolescents in the treatment of autism. Benefits reported include increased vocalizations, verbalizations, gestures, vocabulary comprehension, task-related attention, acts of communication, symbolic play and personal care skills, as well as decreased echolalia (automatic repetition of sentences as you hear them). The researchers also observed an improvement in body awareness and coordination and a decrease in anxiety.

6 – Improve Sleep

The soothing effects of soft music – instrumental or sung, recorded or live – have been observed at all ages of life. According to the results of clinical studies with older people, music therapy could facilitate falling asleep, reduce the number of awakenings, improve the quality of sleep and increase the duration and effectiveness.

7 – Contribute to Child Development and Improved Neonatal Care

The results of a meta-analysis of premature infants emphasize that this approach can help calm the infant, stimulate language development, increase weight gain and tolerance to stimulation, reduce stress and length of time hospitalization.

8 – Contribute to the Relief of Symptoms Related to Dementia

Most clinical trials of the effect of music on individuals with dementia report positive effects of dementia as an improvement in social skills and emotional state, as well as a decrease in behavioral disorders ( agitation, aggression, wandering, etc.). It also seems that this type of approach would reduce the need for physical and pharmacological interventions.

9 – Improve the Coordination of People with Parkinson’s Disease

Music therapy used alone or with physiotherapy can help increase motor coordination in people with Parkinson’s disease. Improvements were observed in walking speed, distance, and pace, general slowness and accuracy of movement. In addition, certain benefits related to emotional functions, language, and quality of life have also been documented.

In addition, other studies have shown that music therapy can improve physical and cognitive activity, relieve some symptoms of depression, cope with grief, or facilitate the delivery of high-risk women…

IV – What Is Music Therapy Used For?

The music therapist is a professional who practices a caring practice based on the therapeutic use of music, sound. He wants to promote the expression, the well-being of the people with whom he works.

To consult a music therapist makes you feel better on various levels: emotional, psychological, etc. Music therapy can be the support of a session of sophrology or relaxation because it helps relaxation. It can be used in stress management but also in many other areas.

1 – The Specialist

In addition to being able to improvise musicians, music therapists need to know the psychosocial and neurobiological development, as well as the characteristics and needs of various ailments. It should be noted that accredited music therapists have a university education. Music therapists practice in schools, hospitals (psychiatry, psychotherapy, pediatrics, neonatal care, etc.) – long-term care facilities, residences for the elderly, functional rehabilitation centers, community centers, centers rehabilitation for alcoholics and addicts, correctional services and private practice.

2 – Consultation and Conduct of a Session

*** Music therapist: preliminary interview, then regular follow-up

The course of a session is a little like for other therapies of soft medicine with for example a naturopath or a phytotherapist.

The music therapist will take stock at the first meeting to determine:

– the goal expected by the consultant, some with clearly defined objectives: therapeutic, creative, behavioral aim;

– the so-called “psycho-musical” balance sheet;

– the musical tastes and habits of the patient;

Eventually, the music therapist will conclude the session by listening to a few songs or have his patient use some instruments.

Other sessions will then be proposed based on this initial personalized assessment. It will then count one session per week.

Depending on the case and the practitioners, the session oscillates at an average of 50 €.

*** One session in music therapy

An approach in music therapy begins with a first evaluation. It is then determined whether the approach meets the needs of the individual and whether the individual is receptive to the music. The therapist invites the participant to choose an instrument, to improvise with him, to sing, to stomp, and to make unusual sounds. It is not a question of performing musical feats, but rather of freely expressing what one feels. Thereafter, the therapist sets short-term goals, based on a global approach to treatment, and plans active or receptive musical activities, adapted to the individual. Thus, the therapist could propose to a participant who only strokes on a few keys of a keyboard to listen to a particular musical piece, and then explores various sounds of the instrument. Music is constantly adapted to the state of health, the reactions, and the objectives to be attained.

*** Scope of a session with a music therapist

The purpose of a session varies from one individual to another or from one company to another. What is music therapy used for? Music therapy can be used in the following cases:

– stress management ;

– a supplement to a therapy treating depressions;

– help for women during pregnancy;

– help during major overwork;

– verified utility in behavioral disorders;

– help in autism care…

3 – Training in Music Therapy

Since the name is not protected, anyone can be a music therapist. To ensure the integrity of the profession and protect the public, associations have established standards of practice and training. In Canada, there are several provincial associations, including the Quebec Association of Music Therapy, which is part of the Association of Music Therapy of Canada. Only the latter can grant the title of “accredited music therapist” (MTA). MTAs must have a university education and meet the requirements of the association (see Sites of Interest). There are 5 centers that deliver the diploma of music therapist in France, but this one is not recognized by the State.

4 – Contraindications of Music Therapy

The risks associated with music therapy are almost non-existent and are common sense. That said, it is possible that some patients, in particular conditions, are negatively influenced by certain types of music – such as heavy metal or hard rock – and find themselves, for example, in a state of unwanted excitation. Obviously, the sound volume should be appropriate and appropriate to the circumstances and participants in the therapy. Finally, the services of a recognized professional are strongly recommended so that music becomes truly therapeutic.

In Summary

Music therapy consists of using music that is rhythm, melody, and harmony, as a therapeutic tool. Music therapy is used in the accompaniment of people with behavioral, relational or communication difficulties. This method also helps to relieve patients with health problems.

The first professional attestations in this field, in the experimental state, date from the twentieth century, notably in Canada and the United States.

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