American Music Therapy Association

July 8, 2008

What the American Music Therapy Association Does?

In creating validity for music therapy, the American Music Therapy Association has quite a job ahead of them. While this organization is comprised of over five thousand licensed and practicing music therapists, getting the word out to the community as a whole has not necessarily been an easy process. But the American Music Therapy Association is doing its part to help let others know the value of music therapy for those patients who may not be responding to conventional therapies.

The main goal of the American Music Therapy Association is to spread the word about the value of music therapy, but also to show that this type of therapy can help those cases where traditional treatments fail. The most current direction for music therapy is actually outside of the therapist’s office and into a rehabilitation facility. By using music, it seems that patients are more motivated to handle physical therapy tasks and goals, while those patients with Alzheimer’s are seeing improvements in their moods and health. Other research is showing that music therapy might be useful in helping those with compromised immune systems.

Located in Maryland, the American Music Therapy Association helps to spread the word by holding annual conferences and maintaining a website that can answer most people’s basic questions about music therapy. Licensed music therapists and other benefactors can also become members of the American Music Therapy Association and help to continue on with the main mission of music therapy. Members are able to access further information on the website, while also being able to take advantage of discounted rates for conferences and classes.

You can also learn about developing a career in music therapy from the American Music Therapy Association. Their website will guide you through the thought process behind this career choice as well as recommend various music therapy programs in the United States. Members will have access to resources that will help prospective students find scholarships and grants as well as to help graduates find jobs in their area.

The American Music Therapy Association is also responsible for maintaining a number of music therapy related publications for professionals and students to read. These include The Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives, AMTA Member Sourcebook, Music Therapy Matters, and Music Therapy eNews. These publications offer information on current research as well as perspectives on uses of music therapy for a variety of medical purposes.

With the American Music Therapy Association, more people are learning the benefits of music therapy for their patients or perhaps for their own therapy needs. And that’s music to anyone’s ears.

Music Therapy and Autism

July 7, 2008

Music Therapy and Autism: How the Right Notes Can Help

Autism is a disorder of the brain that results in communication difficulties and the inability to behave normally in social situations. The symptoms of autism usually show themselves within the first three years of life. Some people experience less severe autism symptoms and can eventually live a semi-independent life. Unfortunately, those with severe autism often must continue to live at home throughout adulthood. This is a very serious disease and as with any disease, there are many different proposed treatments. One of the most highly recognized and used treatments for autism is music therapy.

Music therapy and autism have a fantastic relationship. Most autistic persons have a love for music, and this of course makes it essential to use music therapy as a treatment. Music therapy and autism treatment works well because of the almost obsessive interest autistic persons have in music. As a result, using music therapy to treat autism has a very good rate of positive response. The theory behind the relationship between the positive results of music therapy and autism is rooted in the way autistic people typically view other people and social situations. Music provides a non-intrusive way for the autistic person to be exposed to stimulation without becoming threatening or requiring the autistic person to interact directly with other people.

There are many different ways autistic persons can be helped with music therapy. For example, certain music therapies can foster an autistic person’s desire to communicate with others; external stimuli like music can help to break patterns of isolationism in autistic persons. Music therapy can even be used to treat some of the motility problems experienced by autistic persons as well as help facilitate language usage and comprehension. All of these positive results of music therapy and autism increase the autistic person’s social abilities, and this is one of the most important things to focus on in the average autism patient.

It is important to remember that while music therapy and autism treatment have a lot of major benefits, some autistic persons can be overwhelmed by music therapy. Over-stimulation can be the result of some music therapies, so it is vital that music therapists are qualified to work with autism patients and that they are completely familiar with the patient before beginning therapy. All autistic persons are different, and this is the reason why one type of autistic person might benefit from music therapy and autism patients of another type might be harmed. Sometimes, autistic persons can become consumed with music and this can foster the wrong types of behaviors like further isolation and withdrawal. These possible difficulties should not suggest that all autistic persons will have negative reactions to music therapy. When applied correctly and to the right individual, music therapy and autism treatment can definitely help many autistic persons.

History of Music Therapy

July 7, 2008

Do You Know the History of Music Therapy?

For most people, the history of music therapy is not nearly as important as its ability to help them with their problems. But knowing where this particular therapy came from will help you understand why it does work and how it might work for you. The history of music therapy goes further back than you think – even though it seems like a newer innovation in the therapy business.

A case could be made for the history of music therapy going as far back as biblical times. By using music as a part of religious rituals, it seems that positive things happened or that people were reinforced in their specific belief structures. Because music was a part of this process, it seems that music therapy was having an effect already – even if it was unintentional. Many tribal cultures have also used music as a part of their fertility ceremonies, to worship their gods, and to help with illnesses. In each of these cases, it may be said that the music itself was the motivating factor in helping the patient achieve positive results.

Others believe the history of music therapy began in the late 1800s. There is also evidence the music therapy was used in the post World War I treatment of traumatic injuries. By playing music, patients seemed to heal faster – both emotionally and physically. In listening to the music in the background, patients reports less pain than they had had before the music was turned on. With these positive results, it became clear to doctors and nurses that music really could be therapeutic for a number of patients.

With these positive results, the history of music therapy began to turn to training people to become music therapists. By creating college and university programs which taught music therapy, more psychologists and therapists were able to share this simple and effective technique with their patients. The American Music Therapy Association was developed and multiple academic publications are now available for professionals in the field.

Music therapy today focuses on helping address a variety of concerns in a number of settings. Not only is music therapy used in conjunction with physical therapy, but mental health professionals are finding that music helps relax their clients as well as stimulate conversation. In addition, nursing homes, hospice centers, and rehabilitation facilities are all finding that music therapy can work in conjunction with other activities they have planned.

The history of music therapy may stretch back to times long before our parents and grandparents, but that must mean that it’s doing something right – and that you might want to look into it yourself.

What is the Definition of Music Therapy?

July 3, 2008

The definition of music therapy varies from person to person. If you are asking a professional what music therapy is, you will get a technical and logical explanation of the methods and the uses. If you ask a patient, you might get a list of the benefits as well as the techniques they use in their everyday lives. Each definition is accurate, but it’s also a bit more complicated than even these two outlooks can contain. The definition of music therapy is not just about the ‘what’ and the ‘how,’ it’s also about the ‘who’ and the ‘where.’

When you begin the definition of music therapy, you need to acknowledge the presence of music in the therapy practice. Music can be used in a variety of ways – through listening, sharing and even by creating it in the office setting. As the patient listens to and talks about the music, they are shifting the brain chemicals and waves in their head, helping them be able to process problems they might be having along with allowing them to feel more relaxed and open to solutions to those problems.

Patients might be asked to listen to specific songs as a part of the definition of music therapy. Other therapists might have the patients bring in music they want to hear or share. Still other therapists will have their patients write out new lyrics to songs to help them process difficult things in their lives, while still other therapists will ask clients to listen to music and to figure out what it means to them – a sort of Rorschach test for their moods and their mental health.

The good news is that the definition of music therapy can extend to a variety of groups and problems. Not only is music therapy good for music lovers, but it’s also a good tool for those with mobility programs or those in physical rehabilitation centers. You might also find the soothing music played in the background of a therapeutic setting helps you talk about difficult feelings and events that you wish to share with your therapist, even if the music is never directly addressed in the session itself.

You can find music therapy in a variety of settings for all ages. Some after school care centers like to use music to help children learn to interact with each other, while hospice care centers use music to help patients deal with pain or with their own grief. Those who are in physical therapy might find that high energy music helps to motivate them and to make them push through their goals while those with Alzheimer’s may have more ‘good’ days because they listen to music they are familiar with –from times they can still remember.

Pros and Cons of Research Statistics for Music Therapy

July 1, 2008

Research statistics for music therapy can be very difficult to interpret correctly. While there is information available about the statistics of music therapists, there are few quantitative analyses of music therapy practices. This is because music therapy is a subjective therapy. The quality of the methods used to treat illnesses and other medical conditions is not easily measured by numbers. And while researchers are able to say that certain music therapy methods definitely improve the brain functions of certain types of patients, it is almost impossible to determine statistics for music therapy of this type.

The statistics for music therapy that are available are simply not important to the average person who is looking for information on the benefits of music therapy. Statistics for music therapy generally deal with the music therapists themselves. For example, statistics show that approximately 9% of American Music Therapy Association music therapists are in private practice. While this information may be slightly helpful to someone who is actively seeking treatment, it is not helpful to those who are simply seeking information about music therapy. The same thing goes for statistics for music therapy like 65.8% of survey respondents have a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, 29.2% have a master’s degree, and 5.1% have a doctorate. Again, when a person is ready to choose a music therapist, this information will be important. But the average reader will find little encouragement in these numbers.

So how then does a person decide whether or not he or she wants to use music therapy to help with a medical problem? The best way to do this is not through statistics for music therapy, but rather through the research results themselves. Research results describe the subjective reactions music therapy patients have to different therapeutic methods. Instead of giving a number, such as 25% of this type of patient had this type of reaction to this type of treatment, research results will assess the benefits of any positive reaction from the patient.

Statistics for music therapy cannot provide important information to an interested party about how the therapy affected the music therapy patient’s life. But a study of Alzheimer’s patients who have been exposed to music activity therapies like dancing can tell that same interested party about the elevation in mood and resulting lessening of agitation in the patient. While this information is not quantitative, it is qualitative and thus provides a better understanding of music therapy as a medical treatment. The fact that music therapy can provide distraction from chronic pain resulting in decreased recognition of pain cannot be translated into statistics for music therapy, but it can give the prospective music therapy patient a good idea of what to expect from his or her therapy.

What is Music Therapy?

June 22, 2008

When you ask the question, “What is music therapy?” you’re bound to get a number of answers.  Many of these answers vary depending on the experience of the person who you are asking.  From patients to therapists, each answer may be different, but they all reveal the power of music therapy to help others.  Here are some of the ways, “What is music therapy?” can be answered.

If you were to ask a patient, “What is music therapy?” you might hear that it is something they are using to help overcome a number of problems.  From psychological to physical, music therapy can help soothe the nerves of a patient and make them more receptive to therapeutic suggestions and advice.  They might describe a typical session as including themselves, a therapist and a CD player or mp3 player.  In this session, they might listen to music in the background or they might be encouraged to bring their own music to share.  In listening to the music, they might feel more relaxed and able to share their feelings through the lyrics or the tone of the songs themselves.

Other patients might answer “What is music therapy?” by talking about writing lyrics or dancing to the music in their therapist’s office.  Each client and each goal is going to yield a different form of the music therapy and practice.  While one patient might simply like soothing music in the background as they talk – others might like angry music to stir up the feelings of anger they want to work through.

Those who are not in therapy might think that the answer to “What is music therapy?” is actually something they’ve learned on their own.  When they are upset or stressed, they might turn on a favorite song to help them work through these feelings.  Or if they are having a hard workout, they might turn on faster paced music to help them get through the tough parts.  If you were having a hard time in your relationship, you might listen to the music from your wedding to help you recall the loving feelings you have about your spouse.  It’s all music therapy.

For therapists who get asked, “What is music therapy?” a lot, they might answer that it is a tool that can be used to help clients reveal more of themselves in a session or that it is a way that a therapist and a patient can communicate without talking.  In playing a certain song, for example, a patient can show the therapist which lyrics feel like they are feeling right then and then the therapist can work with this information.

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