Music therapy has been proven to help children with special needs. It is also an effective tool for a variety of other medical conditions. For example, according to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy can be used for pain management and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Board-certified music therapists are employed in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation programs. These professionals are trained in music techniques that help patients relax and take the focus off their medical conditions.
The United States has over 70 music therapy programs. Anyone who wishes to pursue this profession must complete a national exam in order to obtain certification.
Some music therapists use portable electronic keyboards, percussion instruments, or guitars. Others use a combination of live instrumentation, singing and recorded music. Using a variety of tools can help music therapists tailor sessions to an individual’s specific condition and preferences.
Music Therapy Helps Children with Certain Psychological Disorders
For those who have psychological disorders, music therapy can be especially helpful. Psychologists have long known that music therapy is therapeutic for conditions such as autism and can be especially soothing to children with emotional disturbances.
Emotional disorders can significantly impact family and academic life. Music therapy can help alleviate some of the symptoms of these conditions and foster emotional growth in a child.
Music therapists are trained to identify factors that can affect a child’s level of functioning. From there, they can customize a music therapy regimen to reduce anxiety and improve emotional responses. This improvement may translate into better interactions with peers as well as stronger relationships with family members.
Improved Social Functioning
Children who have emotional disorders may feel as though they do not fit in with their peers. This can actually worsen their symptoms. Engaging in music therapy, particularly in a group setting, has been demonstrated to help these children acclimate to being around others.
Children who participate in music therapy in a group setting also have the opportunity to sing and play along with others. This gives them a common goal to work for and reinforces the concept of teamwork.
Music therapy is especially effective for pain management, not only in adults, but in children as well. Music therapists use music both to help keep the patient’s mind off of their pain and to teach them to associate pain with something positive.
Visualization is the most important part of the music therapy when used as a way to mitigate pain. This is because pain is often preceded with fear and anxiety, which may make pain seem worse than it actually is.
Children who are taught to visualize their pain subsiding can eventually learn to associate music with calm and relaxed feelings, rather than focusing on the pain. By putting them in control, individuals may begin to feel that they do have a degree of power over their condition.
While many believe playing recorded music can generate the same effect as music therapy, music therapy is considered a superior option. This is because with music therapy, the sounds are controlled by the music therapist and the participant.
As a result, the changes in a patient’s physical condition that occur during a music therapy session can be matched with the rhythm of the music. This gives sessions a personalized feel.
Music therapists are trained to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of the individuals they work with. They understand how overall sound quality can affect the overall outcome.
Music therapy has been shown to be so effective that in some cases it can be used in lieu of pain medication. In a randomized clinical trial that studied patients before and after a lumbar puncture procedure, it was found that primary pain scores, respiratory rates, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation all improved after receiving group music therapy sessions. Additionally, anxiety scores were much lower following a music therapy session.
Music has been proven to benefit lives in a variety of ways, including improving academic success and social skills. Music therapy continues to grow in popularity, and many devoted musicians have demonstrated an interest in pursuing the certifications necessary to become music therapists themselves.
The website www.musictherapy.org, which is administered by American Music Therapy Association, has a wealth of resources and information on the topic of music therapy. You can also visit their site to locate a qualified music therapist in your area, or you may email them directly for assistance.