Music Therapy- Where Music Meets Healthcare
Music needs no introduction or
explanation for its use in therapy, but musical experience does. It is the
experience that music creates that is therapeutic for the mind and body. It is
important to understand the basics of how music is used as therapy in its
capacity to be inclusive, integrative and responsive to deal with
physio-psycho-socio-educational issues of day-to-day life.
Therapy in Holistic Healthcare
holistic approach towards health, our physical and emotional well-being are
conceived as intertwined. The distress caused by emotional factors is always
linked with a chemical imbalance in the brain and body. Medication is a way to
treat the condition of neurochemical imbalance. However, its side effects on
many occasions are difficult to rule out. Music therapy as an allied healthcare
practice can act as an agent to intrinsically stabilize or change the mood and
emotion causing distress to the body.
man of early 20s who had been admitted in a palliative care unit of a renowned
hospital in a city in India for his last phase of treatment and care, shared
his experience of music therapy in an introspective report as “music therapy
helped me to adapt with the disease, taught me to prioritize spiritual
dimension of life, it soothed me, helped me to develop the realization…when
nobody around, I have my music… I am ready to accept the inevitable.”
Therapy- What does it serve?
several misconceptions about the practice of music therapy. First of all, the
client doesn’t need to have musical ability to benefit from music therapy.
There is a difference between traditional music-based healing and music as
therapy, which is a multidisciplinary field of allied health science. It refers
to the clinical and evidenced-based practise of music as a medium of
therapeutic intervention by a trained and certified professional music
therapist. Music or its elements are implemented through carefully designed
therapeutic techniques to give a therapeutically appropriate experience within
an evolving relationship between client and therapist. The process in clinical
context includes the stages of assessment, intervention and evaluation with
clearly stated individualized therapeutic goals and objectives.
therapy as an approach is integrative and inclusive in the context of health
care, can get involved in interdisciplinary treatment planning, evaluations and
follow up. It is often used to support or facilitate the process and outcomes
of other therapies like speech therapy, occupational therapy, special education
etc. Because of the flexibility and adaptability of music as a medium of
communication in therapy, it easily gains the attention and acceptance of
clients. In children, the unique music experience in an intentional and
developmentally appropriate manner brings change to the behaviour, facilitates
developmental skills and enhances the quality of life of the child and family.
creative modalities, like dance and movements, arts, storytelling, role play,
etc., are often integrated within the domain of music therapy practice,
facilitate multisensory experiences. Music in the form of responsive therapy-
medically, psychologically and socio-culturally, structured and adapted through
musical elements, helps to build and strengthen the mutually responsive
connection between therapist and client.
Music Therapy on Children
experience of practicing music therapy with children with special needs- music
gives personal direct access to their World, facilitates unconditional acceptance
by children, helps to form emotional bonding and secure attachment faster than
any other medium. The overall positivity associated with the process of
music-making in therapy accelerates the achievement of therapeutic goals and
comments from parents like -
waits for this session through the week”
child is better adjusted in school.”
child’s mathematical ability has increased after joining music therapy.”
are lots of changes in mood and behaviour that helped my child to adjust with
helped me to get involved more with the interventions that my son is going
through..… I feel much secure now.”
observe an overall positive change in my daughter in all aspects…I think it is
due to the effects of music.”
of Music Therapy
the unique features and advantages of music therapy for children suffering from
any disability or emotional or behavioural problems include
- Enhances imagination and creativity by giving space
for creative self-expression at their level.
- Gives multisensory experiences as the brain as a
whole receives and responds to music.
- Gives stability to gross and fine motor movements;
body posture and balance.
- Encourages flexibility of thoughts and behaviours.
- Facilitates verbal and non-verbal communication
skills in a unique manner.
- Develops awareness of the environment in a unique
- Teaches utilization of space in social interaction.
- Indulges freedom as well as a sense of security in
a musical context.
- Helps to develop emotional regulation.
- Helps to develop self-regulation.
- Boosts self-esteem.
- The melody and rhythm of music bind the child-
therapist, child- family, child- peers through uniquely created musical
- Explores the cause behind a clinical symptom in a
- Safely be used with children for the diagnosis of a
- Music has no side effects! Directly linked to
overall enhancement and upliftment of life and related conditions.
The positive impact of music in people lives
encompassing a wide range of conditions and circumstances are well documented
through research evidence.
Therapy is a lot more than relaxation….
Music therapy functions at three
levels- restoration, maintenance and improvement of physical and mental
health. The therapeutic properties and applications of music can do
much more than what we believe or simply associate with relaxation or unwinding
emotions. Music therapy practice can be employed and integrated at a variety of
places, including psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation centres, medical hospitals,
outpatient clinics, day care treatment centres, agencies serving
developmentally disabled persons, community mental health centres, drug and
alcohol programs, old age homes, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional
facilities, halfway houses, schools, and even in private practices.