Benefits of music therapy

Music therapy uses music to promote positive changes in a person’s well-being. These positive changes can manifest themselves in changes in physical development, social and interpersonal development, emotional or spiritual well-being, or cognitive abilities.

The therapeutic benefits of music have been known and used since ancient times. However, music therapy in modern times dates back to the World Wars, when music was used in hospitals for the rehabilitation and recovery of soldiers who had suffered physical or emotional trauma. The University of Kansas was the first university in the United States to offer a degree in music therapy in 1944.

French cellists Juliet Alvin and Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins were among the early proponents of music therapy in the 1950s to 1970s. The Nordoff-Robbins approach is still used in many countries around the world including the US, UK, Australia, Germany and South Africa.

So how does music therapy work?

Music is universal and connects across language barriers. Most people, regardless of illness or disability, can respond to music in some way.

Music has the inherent ability to evoke an emotional response in the listener. It stimulates a relaxation response which can therefore lead to physiological changes in the body. Music is known to reduce stress and produce associated benefits such as lower blood pressure, improved breathing, reduced heart rate, better cardiac output, and reduced muscle tension.

Music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain and this stimulation has been shown to help with the development of speech and language functions. It promotes socialization and the development of communication, self-expression and motor skills. Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders have been found to respond very positively to music, and many of them demonstrate high levels of musical ability.

Music encourages both verbal and non-verbal communication and encourages social interaction and connectedness. It is a valuable outlet for self-expression and creativity. It has also been used successfully in pain management, providing a distraction from the painful stimulus as well as a means of relaxation and stress relief.

Children with developmental and learning disabilities, children and adults with autism spectrum disorders or special needs, and the elderly and those with dementia have been shown to benefit from music therapy. Although the benefits of music therapy have been intuitively accepted and based on anecdotal evidence, it is only recently that quantitative evidence of its effectiveness has begun to emerge.

A recent study conducted by the University of Miami School of Medicine found that blood samples from a group of male Alzheimer’s patients treated with music therapy had significantly elevated levels of melatonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which are chemicals that act on the brain act to control mood, depression, aggression and sleep. The benefits of the therapy were evident six weeks after stopping therapy, and in the case of melatonin, the effects lasted even longer.

Music therapy is gaining wider acceptance in the general medical community and has certainly stood the test of time. Music therapists today practice in a variety of mental health settings, developmental and early intervention programs, correctional facilities, and special education programs, to name a few. Many succeed where traditional treatments have failed.

Thanks to Kevin Sinclair | #Benefits #music #therapy

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