Soon, music therapy became recognized as an effective and
scientifically-backed mode of treatment. The first music
therapy degree program ever was established in 1944 in the
State of Michigan, U.S.
A trained music therapist gauges the emotional well-being,
physical health, social functioning and cognitive skills
through the patient's responses to music. Once the assessment
is complete, the practitioner designs music session for
individuals or groups. The therapeutic music is prepared based
on client needs and uses music improvisation, song writing,
lyric discussion, imagery and musical performances.
Using music for therapy can be a very powerful way to reach
children and adolescents. Elderly people and people with
developmental and learning disabilities, people suffering from
Alzheimer's disease and age related problems and people in
acute pain also benefit from music therapy. Music therapy is a
powerful way to help people express their feelings.
Professional music therapists are usually found in
rehabilitative facilities, psychiatric hospitals, medical
hospitals, drug and alcohol programs, nursing homes,
correctional facilities, schools and private practice.
Some people mistakenly believe that a patient needs to have
some particular musical ability to benefit from therapy. There
is no one particular style of music that is more therapeutic
than the rest. Any style of music can be equally effective. Any
person can be a patient. The patient's background, needs and
history help determine the type of music used.
Even healthy people can make use of the healing powers of
music. Listening to or making music, playing or drumming can
greatly reduce stress and improve productivity. Research shows
that music is a vital support for physical exercise. Music
therapy is even said to assist labor and delivery.
In hospitals, music therapy is used to alleviate pain and is
often used in conjunction with anesthesia or pain medication. A
question that is often raised is why use music if anesthesia
does the same thing? Music helps because it dissolves emotional
barriers and elevates the patient's mood. Music also counteracts
depression, calms and even sedates patients. In a nutshell,
music helps reduce muscle tension and brings on a deep and
Since 1994 music therapy has been identified as a reimbursable
service in the U.S. Music therapy is considered 'active
treatment' when it meets the following criteria:
- Is prescribed by a physician
- Is reasonably necessary for the treatment of the injury or
- Is based on a documented treatment plan
- Is showing some sort of result in the patient
The future of music therapy is indeed very promising as more
and more research supports the effectiveness of music against
diseases like Alzheimer's and chronic pain.
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