Music Therapy Basics!
Welcome to Ignite Music Therapy’s October newsletter edition! This month is focused on Music Therapy’s 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why Music Therapy.
What is “Music Therapy”?
Let’s first start by talking about and understanding a little bit about what music therapy really is. Is it magic? Is it just listening to recorded music through my headphones? The answer to these questions (comments that I regularly hear) is “not quite”. According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” To dive deeper into this, music therapy is a therapeutic medium to help individuals achieve non-musical goals in the physical, cognitive, social, behavioral, emotional, and spiritual domains. If people are having a hard time understanding what I really do, I like to say I am a therapist, who is trained to use music as my medium.
I think it is important to note the training music therapists have. We are required to receive a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, complete a 6-9 month internship, and then sit for and pass the boards exam to become a board certified music therapist. Our training includes courses in anatomy/physiology, psychology, music courses, music therapy specific courses, etc. It is not just training on how to create music, but how to use that music to achieve non-musical goals.
Who, Where, When?
Music therapy can be utilized with a wide range of people because it is such an important aspect of our lives and can reach people on deeper levels. Music therapists work with newborns all the way to end of life and anywhere in between. Session can be held in schools, hospice facilities, day treatment facilities, hospitals, early intervention programs, rehab facilities, in a person’s home or studio, and the list goes on and on. There is really no limit to when and where music therapists can work, as long as the client’s can benefit from music therapy techniques and interventions.
Probably the most important question…”why music therapy”? Music therapy is a therapy unlike any other, but can help achieve similar goals that are worked on in other therapies. The only difference is, well, music. Have you ever been in a bad mood or unmotivated, you turned on your favorite music, and all of a sudden you are feeling like you can do anything and ready to conquer your tedious to do list? Do you still have the ‘ABC’s’ song fully memorized and have to sing it while alphabetizing your files? Music helps with memory recall, motivation towards tasks, mood elevation, self-expression, and even can help teach us important life lessons. If these things are true and you have experienced at least one of these examples, then imagine how helpful it could be for a person who experiences dementia and can’t remember her address or phone number. A music therapist would help create a song to increase her memory recall for these items. Imagine a person suffering from depression and struggling to communicate these feelings. A music therapist could facilitate song sharing or songwriting with this individual to encourage a positive emotional outlet and form of expression. There are so many reasons and examples of why music therapy is so powerful and encouraging during someone’s therapeutic process, but not many people realize its importance.
If you would like to read more about music therapy, check out our national association page at http://www.musictherapy.org.
If there are any topics that you as a reader would like more information about, or you have questions, thoughts, or comments about this month’s newsletter, send an email to email@example.com.