History of Music Therapy

July 7, 2008 · Print This Article

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.

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