Music therapy is a clinical and research-based practice which uses music to actively support people who want to improve their health, functioning and well-being. Music therapy includes methods which help to accomplish personalized and individualized goals. Music therapy uses music which addresses physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual needs of different individuals.
The history of music therapy starts in 20th century, after WWI and WWII when community musicians went to Veterans Administration hospitals around the country to play for thousands of veterans who were experiencing physical and emotional trauma from wars. As improvement of physical and emotional health was notable, medics decided to hire musicians for work in hospitals. Musicians needed some prior training before entering hospitals, so the demand for a college curriculum grew. The first music therapy degree program in the world was founded in the year of 1944, at Michigan State University. The American Music Therapy Association was founded in the year of 1998, but the Canadian Association for Music Therapy was founded in the year of 1974.
Music therapy provides following benefits: promotion of wellness, management of stress, improvement of memory, alleviation of pain, expression of feelings, improvement of communication and socialization, promotion of physical rehabilitation, as well as improvement of life quality.
People of all ages can benefit from music therapy. Music therapy is suitable for people who have medical illnesses such as cancer and other end-stage illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease and other age related illnesses, brain injuries, physical disabilities, acute and chronic pain, substance abuse problems, stress-related symptoms, mental health needs and issues, pre-post natal and pre-post surgical care, as well as development and learning disabilities.
Actually music therapy is a healthcare profession. Music therapy can be done by music therapy professionals – music therapists – who have completed an approved music therapy degree program. Music therapists work in medical and psychiatric hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitative facilities, day care treatment centers, senior centers, nursing homes and residencies, halfway houses, agencies for developmentally challenged persons, mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, hospice programs, correctional facilities, schools, as well as private practice.
Music therapist works with individuals and with groups with clients who need treatment, as well as biopsychosocial and spiritual support. Music therapists assess clients general state of health by interviewing and listening. Basing on their responses music therapists assess their physical health, emotional well-being, communication abilities, cognitive skills, as well as social functioning. Music therapists design music therapy strategies which are based on clients holistic needs. These strategies include music improvisation, listening techniques, lyric discussion, imagery, song writing and learning. In one word, music therapists involve clients in creative and expressive strategies, enhancing their overall well-being and quality of life. Sessions of music therapy are held as often as necessary, but it is recommended to held them as often as possible.