Lately I’ve been becoming more and more interested in music therapy, which involves creating, playing, singing, or listening to music to help address various physical or mental ailments in patients. While anyone can experience the healing and therapeutic benefits of music on their own, music therapy sessions are generally conducted or overseen by a licensed therapist or specialist. Administering music therapy under the care of a trained music therapist can greatly increase the benefits of this time-tested and popular practice.
There are many different applications and benefits of music therapy, and I hope to dig deeper into each of them on this blog at a later date. In the meantime, here are three of the more common benefits and uses:
Helps with Pain and Recovery
Music therapy can help change our perception of pain. Surgery patients, people with chronic pain, and cancer patients have reported a reduction in pain levels when undergoing music therapy.
Helps with Symptoms of Depression
Music can have a tremendous effect on our moods. Many therapists use music therapy to help those suffering with depression because of its ability to help regulate emotions and promote general well-being.
Helps Improve Memory Functions
Because of its melodic and repetitive nature, music has the ability to improve our memory and general cognitive functions. Studies on patients with Alzheimer’s have also shown that music therapy can help recover previously lost memories. The effects here can be particularly dramatic; see for example this remarkable video of a memory care patient named Henry:
Henry not only remembers his love for music, but even the name of his favorite singer (Cab Calloway) before then crooning a familar Christmas tune. I’ve served as a pianist/songleader at memory care facilities, and while I’ve never seen anything quite this dramatic, I have seen previously unresponsive people open their eyes wide (like Henry does) and literally dance in their chairs. It’s amazing and truly a joy to behold.