Articles on Music Therapy

October 5, 2009

Today’s society is filled with people trying to find alternative remedies to illnesses. There are many reasons for this, from lack of health insurance to the desire to avoid medication. But whatever the reason, many alternative therapies, like music therapy, have grown in popularity. In fact, music therapy has not only gained popularity, it has also gained recognition as a medical profession. This has led many students interested in careers helping others to seek degrees in music therapy.

Of course, both students and people who are seeking relief from ailments are searching for information about music therapy. This is where articles on music therapy become important. Articles on music therapy can help educate non-professionals about this professional field. Professionally written articles, such as research articles, are the best way to go for those who are looking for information regarding the proven benefits of music therapy. These articles will give the reader an idea of what types of music therapy techniques have been used in which situations, and how those techniques have fared when compared to traditional therapy methods.

For example, a person interested in using music therapy to treat chronic pain would want to search for articles on music therapy that dealt with the results of research performed on chronic pain patients. These articles will give the person an idea of the music therapy techniques that seem to work the best on chronic pain patients – such as utilizing music as a distraction from pain, or as a relaxation method to reduce physical stress that can enhance the brain’s perception of pain. Articles on music therapy allow the reader to see how music therapy is used in chronic pain patients and what he or she can expect from music therapists for his or her particular condition. The reader can also choose the technique that seems best to him or her and suggest that to his or her music therapist.

Whether the reader is a student or a potential music therapy patient, it is extremely important for him or her to know how to determine the validity of the articles on music therapy he or she is reading. The best resources are available at the library; published articles are written by scholarly authors with formal background in the subject. If the library is not an option, the interested person can look for legitimate articles on music therapy on the internet. A good tip for this person is to look for articles published on websites hosted by professional music therapy organizations like the American Music Therapy Association. Articles on music therapy from these organizations will be accurate and up-to-date.

Music Therapy Assessment

November 9, 2008

Music Therapy Assessment and Treatment

Like all types of therapies, music therapy cannot begin until the patient has been assessed by the therapist. Music therapy assessment is similar in theory to the assessment done by any other medical practitioner: the therapist evaluates the patient, determines the patient’s needs, addresses the patient’s concerns about the therapy process, and then creates a therapy program tailored to that specific patient.

But music therapy assessment differs from medical assessment in many ways as well. Whereas a medical doctor asks about the patient’s symptoms, decides on the cause and suggests a cure or treatment, the music therapist cannot quickly determine the needs of the patient based on a simple conversation. Many music therapists need more than just a few minutes with a patient; they require extended exposure to the patient in the form of conversation, observation and sometimes even analysis of the patient’s environment before they can accurately determine what type of treatment would work well for the specific individual.

Once the music therapist has determined the needs of the patient, they still have to create a treatment plan. Music therapy assessment plays into this step as the therapist uses what he or she observes and learns from the patient to adjust the treatment plan accordingly. Music therapists often create completely unique treatment plans for each patient because each patient has specific, distinctive traits, symptoms, and needs that are different from those of any other patient. Rarely will a music therapy assessment lead a music therapist to exactly the same treatment plan that he or she has used before.

This is not to say, however, that a music therapy assessment and treatment plan will not lead the therapist to specific treatment tools. In fact, there are methods of treatment in music therapy – as there are in psychiatric therapy or any other therapy – that are used to treat certain illnesses. For example, an Autistic patient can expect his therapist to use treatment methods that have been found to be successful in Autism patients. However, there are many different methods for each illness and the combinations of these treatment methods will differ with each patient.

The multitude of treatment methods for each illness and ailment is wonderful because it allows the music therapist to choose from a wide range of possibilities to treat each individual. However, the sheer number of potential treatments makes it even more important that the music therapy assessment is performed by a qualified music therapist who has extensive experience with the patient’s type of illness. The more experience a music therapist has with Autism, for example, the better he or she can treat the many different types of Autism that affect the population.

Music Therapy Schools

November 6, 2008

Choosing the Best Music Therapy Schools

Choosing a school is never a simple task.  When you are trying to find a place that will guide you toward your academic and personal goals, not all music therapy schools are made alike.  You need to weigh several factors in choosing the program that’s right for you.  While this process is time consuming, the best music therapy schools are out there – if only you a few hours of your time to carefully consider your options.

The first thing that most people look for in music therapy schools is their accreditation status.  You generally want to apply to programs where the curriculum has been verified by the national accreditation board so that you can potentially teach at higher education systems or transfer your credits to another program later in your learning.  It is simple enough to find the answer to this question – ask the school enrollment office when you sign up for more information.  They will let you know if you are looking at an accredited school or not.  While there’s nothing necessary wrong with a non-accredited school, it can limit your career options down the road.

The next thing to look for in music therapy schools is the price.  Though student loans and grants are often used to help pay for education these days, that doesn’t mean that you need to borrow a bunch of money to get your degree.  Find programs that are reasonable in cost so that you can focus on what you are learning, rather than what you are paying for the education you are receiving.  It will help to determine a range of prices for your schooling as well as to figure out what you can afford to pay each month, if they offer a monthly installment plan.  Limiting the amount of money you need to borrow is always good advice.

But it’s the programs at music therapy schools that you should really focus on.  Look at the classes they offer, when they are offered, and who the teachers are.  You want to sign up at a school where the teachers are already professional music therapists as they can give you a better idea of what to expect in your career and what you need to learn before you will be ready.  Though the reputation of a school might be something that’s appealing to you, another factor to consider is class size.  You don’t want to be lost in the masses of a larger school when you could be going to a lesser know, but still solid school, getting the attention you need.

Music Therapy Cancer

October 30, 2008

Music Therapy Cancer Treatments

One of the most interesting applications of music therapy is in cancer treatment. Music therapy cancer treatments are very helpful to a wide variety of patients who suffer from a large range of cancers. While music therapy cancer treatments don’t actually affect the disease itself – meaning that the tumor will not show any physical signs of improvement – the treatments and therapies will greatly affect the mood of the patient, and sometimes that can make all the difference in the way the patient deals with and feels about the disease.

The American Cancer Society has published several articles about the benefits of music therapy cancer treatments. One from 2004 discusses some of the more specific research done on cancer patients who have received music therapy. The music therapy cancer treatments used were diverse, as were the types of cancers that the patients suffered from. Most of the patients in the study suffered from multiple myeloma, Hodgkin disease, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The reason the study chose to work with these particular cancer patients is because they were undergoing typical medical cancer treatments like autologous stem cell transplant and high-dose chemotherapy. These treatments are exceptionally rigorous on the patient, causing symptoms like anorexia, fevers, and fatigue. But more than these problems, most intense are the emotional rigors of the treatments. These were the symptoms that were best helped by the music therapy cancer treatments.

The music treatments commonly used to treat cancer patients are varied; however, most patients in this study received music therapy in the form of live music played by a trained music therapist. The results of the music therapy cancer treatments in this particular study were fascinating. According to the researchers, patients reported a great improvement in mood. The more anxious patients reported a lessening of their anxiety symptoms. Meanwhile, patients who were experiencing other mood-lowering symptoms like depression reported having an overall elevated mood.

Because of all of the positive results from the multiple successful music therapy cancer treatments used all over the country, music therapy is now offered in many hospitals. There are more therapies than just the live music therapy discussed above. Some patients have used music therapy cancer treatments like music activities. Music activities – often involving writing song lyrics or playing an instrument – have been shown to greatly decrease anxiety in cancer patients. Of course, as with all types of therapy, these music therapy cancer treatments should be done with the help of a trained music therapist. Music therapists work with the individual patient to find the best therapies for that patient.

Music Therapy Research

October 2, 2008

A Brief Overview of Music Therapy Research

Music therapy can be used for a wide range of illnesses, cognitive problems, and emotional issues. Because of the positive reactions of music therapy patients, a large amount of music therapy research has been done to test the theories behind why, how and if music therapy actually works. While the results differ with the various applications and techniques, in general music therapy research has established that music therapy is an acceptable and legitimate health care profession.

There has been extensive music therapy research done on various areas of the health care field, and some of the most difficult patients with the most difficult to treat problems have shown improvement, if sometimes temporary, when they have been exposed to music therapy. For example, Alzheimer’s patients suffer from numerous problems such as cognitive dysfunctions, social behavior issues, and motor skill problems. In music therapy research, cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer’s patients is treated by subjecting the patient to three different types of music therapy treatments: musically cued reminiscence, verbally cued reminiscence, and musical activity. While musically and verbally cued reminiscence did improve certain brain functions and even could increase language abilities in some patients, the most significant difference was found in patients who were exposed to musical activities. In fact, music therapy research showed that these musical activities – like using songs to promote reminiscence and discussion – actually raised patients’ cognitive testing scores.

But cognitive disabilities and illnesses are not the only health problems that can be treated successfully with music therapy. Music therapy is often used for patients who suffer from chronic pain. In the chronic pain studies, different types of pain patients were studied to see how music therapy would improve pain problems caused by various medical problems. Chronic pain patients in general are helped by music therapy because the perception of pain and the perception of music are essentially the same in terms of the way the brain perceives each sensation. Music is used to cancel out the vibrations of pain, often eliminating - or at least decreasing - the brain’s perception of the pain.

Music therapy has a very high success rate in pain patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and other ongoing illnesses. But there is also a high rate of success when music is used to treat the pain of temporary pain, like the pain of labor and childbirth. In fact, music therapy research shows that when used in the labor and delivery room, music can help a laboring mother to lower her amount of pain. Cancer patients, especially children, are often exposed to music therapy treatments that involve singing; this treatment has been shown to boost the child’s immune system.

Music Therapy Activity and the Elderly

September 30, 2008

Music therapy activity and the elderly is a topic that has been researched thoroughly. There are many uses for music therapy in the medical field, and a lot of those uses apply at least partially, if not strictly, to the elderly. Some of the more useful applications of music therapy activity and the elderly are in the areas of Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, and general Geriatrics. But while these are the studies done solely on the elderly, there are other applications of music therapy that can apply to the elderly just as well as they apply to patients of other ages. For example, elderly patients with chronic pain, cancer, hearing impairment, or who have recently gone through a surgery or have lost a loved one can also benefit greatly from music therapy.

The most complete studies done on music therapy activity and the elderly have been done on Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimer’s patients have tested higher in their cognitive abilities after being exposed to music therapy activity. While other kinds of therapy can also be applied to assist Alzheimer’s patients, only music activities quantitatively prove that there is a significant increase in the patient’s brain function.

Dementia is similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, there is much more limited research as to the proven effects of music therapy activity and the elderly who suffer from Dementia. This is not to say, however, that music therapy activity does not work with elderly people who have Dementia. Many music therapists have witnessed great positive effects on patients and their caregivers who are exposed to music and music therapy on a regular basis. Because Dementia has similar symptoms as Alzheimer’s disease, especially cognitive dysfunctions including memory and recognition problems, some of the research on Alzheimer’s patients can be applied to Dementia patients.

Music therapy activity and the elderly have been studied not only for specific diseases, but also for the general geriatric healthcare. Music activities such as dancing can greatly improve the social habits and wellbeing of both general geriatric patients and those with Dementia. Creating social connections with another person through activities like dancing can bring out the liveliness in elderly people, and this will greatly improve their mood and overall happiness.

Much of the research on music therapy activity and the elderly patients it helps focused on the problem of agitation. For many geriatric patients, especially those with Dementia, agitation is one of the most difficult symptoms to control. However, using soft music can help quiet the agitated mind of geriatric patients, thus improving their mood and their health.

Music Therapy Activities

September 14, 2008

What are Some Music Therapy Activities?

Music therapy activities are much more varied than it seems.  Though it would be reasonable to think that music therapy would consist of music, the extent to which music can be used is far more expansive.  From lyrics to dance, musical backgrounds and song sharing, music therapy activities can be custom fit to the patient they are meant to help.  But learning more about each of these techniques can help patients and therapists get ahead of the problem and start getting to the solutions.

Using song lyrics is one of the more common music therapy activities in rehabilitative and counseling sessions.  By writing lyrics about difficult things in your life, you might be able to see connections and solutions to your own problems.  The therapists might have to rewrite the lyrics to a particular song you enjoy or to a song that you feel is similar to your feelings at the time.  You might also be asked to write lyrics to a song about the life you want to create for yourself – whether this is related to psychological or physical changes.

Dancing to music is another way to encourage people to work through a number of problems.  In the physical therapy setting, dancing and moving to the music are music therapy activities that can bolster strength as well as moods.  By slowly working your way up to more strenuous activities, a patient can begin to feel more confident in their ability to move while also gaining strength and stamina along the way.  With upbeat music, it’s easier for people to continue working out too as they can feel inspired by the tempo or the lyrics in the songs they choose.

Just playing soft music in the background of a therapeutic session can be considered one of the more positive and practical music therapy activities.  Every wonder why elevators always play soft and soothing music?  Because this helps people relax and not worry so much about the elevator malfunctioning.  On the opposite side of the music gamut, playing harder, louder and faster music can increase the heart rate and cause the person listening to make decisions more quickly than they should – that’s why many stores play loud and penetrating music.

Therapists might also use music therapy activities that include sharing songs that the patient or the therapist feel are relevant to their discussions.  By taking time to share a song, the patient doesn’t have to talk as much about what they feeling, letting the music speak for them.

There are many music therapy activities that can help the patient reach their goals and the therapist to communicate in a positive and successful way.

Natural Healing and Music for Autism

September 7, 2008

For parents who have autistic children, there is no type of therapy left unexplored.  If it is even suggested that a particular form of therapy could be beneficial to their child, most parents will try it to see for themselves.  Natural healing is one of the ways many parents attempt to enhance their autistic child’s learning.  This can include diet, speech therapy, play therapy, sensory therapy and music therapy.  It is commonly believed that a combination of different remedies will best help the child in coping with autism and allow them to learn at a faster pace.  While many different therapies are effective, music therapy seems to cross many boundaries and assist in all aspects of other learning.  Even if it si not the main source, it can enhance other forms of therapy.

In people without autism, music can be soothing, inspiring and incite the senses.  Because autistic children are often sensitive to sound and seem to be attuned to music, the benefits most people find in music can be especially helpful with autism.  It is a non verbal and non threatening way to enhance situations and to calm the child.  It can also be used as a tool to increase the ability to learn.  It can be used in conjunction with speech therapy in order to speed up the understanding of vocabulary and language patterns.

Social situations, commonly difficult for autistic children, are much easier with the assistance of music in the classroom.  For example, you can use music to encourage autistic children to sit together and interact.  You can even encourage eye contact with the use of clapping in time to the music or using cymbals.  Silly songs and fun beats can often incite smiles in laughter in otherwise stoic children.  For those who have difficulty following the rules, making rules to music can be highly successful. 

Music also soothes the senses and can make a stressful situation seem calmer.  This can help the autistic child in a number of ways across of number of learning opportunities.  Motor skills can be enhanced by practicing physical activities to a beat.  Musical ability is also often displayed in those who have autism.  While not every child is the same, many autistic children are sensitive to musicality.  Some have good singing voices, others can mimic sounds, some may have perfect pitch and others may be able to play an instrument easily by ear.  Regardless, theses skills can all b used to enhance other areas of learning.

Speech problems are typical in autistic children but with the use of music, they can learn vocabulary and sentence structure.  It is common for autistic children to speak in monosyllabic tones but this can gradually dissipate with the use of music therapy as a natural healing remedy.  Children will often understand how to structure a question as opposed to a statement or use an exclamation appropriately when initially taught via music. 

Therapists who use music as a tool to enhance the teaching process to autistic children report a high rate of success.  Parents and teachers alike should try music therapy as a means to enhance their autistic child’s learning ability. It is also highly successful as a natural healing remedy to soothe when in a stressful situation. 

Music Therapy Degree

July 26, 2008

Do You Want a Music Therapy Degree?

More people are choosing the music therapy degree path than ever before because of its ability to help people in a therapeutic setting. Not only will you be able to work with people from different backgrounds, but you will also be able to help in a variety of therapy situations. By taking the time to learn more about how to pursue your music therapy degree, you will be able to make the decision as to whether this field is something that’s right for you.

A music therapy degree is a multi-faceted study. Not only will you learn how to listen to music in order to use it for therapeutic purposes, but you will also be learning how to use singing, writing lyrics, and dancing as a part of your sessions with patients. With so many applications, music therapy allows you to custom fit the therapy to the patient, no matter what their obstacles or mental concerns.

But a music therapy degree isn’t for everyone. Because you need to interact in a personal way with patients, you need to have excellent communication skills as well as patience. You need to be willing to work with a patient at a speed that works for them. While you might create a plan of action for the patient, you need to be ready and willing to change the plan if the patient is unable to make the goals you have both set.

It takes a special person to finish a music therapy degree. You must love to work with people and you might also have a genuine love and appreciation for music of all kinds. Since different patients are going to respond to different kinds of music, you will need to know various types of music intimately to help choose the right songs or sounds for your particular patient.

You can find music therapy degree programs at many local universities and colleges. Simply look at the psychology department to see if they offer a specific program in this therapy. If not, you might be able to take a course or two in the practice of music therapy and utilize it within a traditional therapy degree.

There are many opportunities for those with a music therapy degree, including private and group practice as well as nursing homes and rehabilitation services. The diversity of your employers allows you to choose the setting that works best for you and for the clients you hope to help.

By majoring in music therapy, you are getting into a growing field of professionals who want to harness the power of the mind to change the life of a patient. While not everyone responds immediately to any therapeutic practice, you can know that you are doing your part to help someone in need of help.

Music Therapy Autism and Children

July 16, 2008

Music therapy Autism is a very important part of the treatment for this serious disease. Most the music therapy autism patients are children and this makes the application of the treatments even more integral to the successful results of the therapy. Since Autism is generally discovered in children three years old or younger, many Autism patients begin treatment at a very young age. This is quite beneficial as there is some research to suggest that early treatment of Autism can greatly improve the child’s ability to function on his own in a more “normal” way. Music therapy autism is generally used with children – and even sometimes with children as young as three to five years of age – because a child can appreciate music at a young age.

Of course, not all types of music therapy can be used in young autism patients. Those treatments that require coordinated actions and activities might be too advanced for young children. But other types of music therapy can be used to treat autism in children. For example, some methods of music therapy for Autism patients are used to engage the patient; some children respond well to this type of music therapy autism.

The reason music therapy autistic is used with children is because there is a very high success rate. Autistic children tend to have extremely high aptitudes for music. They are unusually talented in the music area, and many are natural instrument players and singers. By using music therapy to treat Autism, music therapists can help the Autistic child build his or her language skills.

Music therapists will play a musical note and the child will respond by singing the same note. There has been extensive research on this phenomenon and some of the research even shows that some of the children in the studies even progress past just singing a solitary note. Music therapy autism treatments are used to teach autistic children who cannot communicate in more than grunts or hums to form small words. This technique was researched in one study where a therapist matched combinations of consonants and vowels to musical notes and taught an Autistic child to speak simple words by singing them.

Similar techniques are used to help Autistic children to communicate in more complex ways as well. Music therapy autism professionals will create repetitive songs that they teach to the child. The words of the song create a way for the child to communicate his wants and needs through singing. The repetitive nature of the songs works with the way the Autistic mind understands and remembers things.

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