Music therapy brings together methods based on listening to or producing music, used as therapeutic tools to help express emotions and facilitate communication. They would also help improve physical symptoms such as pain.
How music therapy works
Music therapy, like other art therapies, offers the possibility of expressing emotions and affectivity without words. By stimulating the emotional state, restores or improves confidence in oneself and in others, which allows to alleviate certain sufferings and to communicate better. Music involves auditory perception as well as the direct perception of musical vibrations. In the brain, it stimulates the center of emotions, with possible repercussions on the cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, and vegetative systems.
There are several methods:
Receptive (or passive) music therapy is based on listening to a sound program adapted to the patient’s age, musical culture, and psychological problems; this program is established after a psychological interview and a test of musical receptivity. Relaxation techniques are associated with it to reduce anxiety and nervousness;
Active music therapy is based on sound productions using voice, percussion or other instruments;
Psychomusical techniques promote rest and relaxation. They bring together all the possible applications of sound, rhythm, movement, voice, and music in a helping relationship.
What music therapy offers
If you are on psychotherapy and have emotional, neurotic, or psychotic problems, music therapy sessions can help improve your condition.
In the event of stress, anxiety, and pain, psychometrical techniques have soothing effects. They are also frequently used in palliative care, surgery, obstetrics-gynecology, or resuscitation of newborns.
Music therapy sessions are also indicated in the event of rehabilitation of neurological and sensory disorders. They are often advised to improve behavioral or social maladjustment problems, physical or mental handicaps, learning difficulties, and academic delays, etc.
In geriatrics, music therapy is part of the management of senile dementia.
Contraindications and warning
Receptive music therapy is contraindicated in some forms of epilepsy.
It is not recommended for people with hallucinatory disorders.
Music therapy is an aid and should not replace medical treatment.
How to find a practitioner
In general, music therapy is practiced by musicians who also have training in psychology or psychotherapy or by health professionals who have some musical training. It has established itself in certain hospital and rehabilitation centers, in community health centers and in schools.
Depending on your needs, the practitioner offers individual or group sessions of active or receptive music therapy.
The first sessions are devoted to the review. During a long interview, the therapist explains the purpose of the therapy and seeks to discover your tastes and your receptivity to music. It can also put you in a situation facing simple instruments. This first session allows him to define an adapted treatment plan.
You work either from musical instruments or from recorded music and sounds.
Inactive music therapy, your sessions can focus on vocal and respiratory work, which aims to release your tensions and become aware of your body.
Singing improves speech disorders and stimulates memory.
Rhythmic games are useful for relearning how to express emotions; percussion is particularly suitable for children and people in great difficulty.
The therapist may suggest that you play an instrument to improve your motor coordination and the image you have of yourself.
You can also choose to compose and write songs, which promotes the externalization of emotions.
In receptive music therapy, you listen to musical extracts chosen according to their evocative power, which helps you to express your emotions.
What science says
The studies carried out on the effects of music therapy are numerous but not recognized because their methods of application are too diverse (choice of instruments, type of music, etc.). However, doctors are seeing their real effects, including improving mood and reducing anxiety. Some hospitals in Quebec include it in their care panel.
Music, the remedy of the soul
In ancient Greece, music was already used to provoke a catharsis, an intense emotional reaction supposed to generate a spiritual purification. Beginning in the 18th century, Western doctors like the Englishman Richard Browne sought to analyze its effects on the body. At the beginning of the 20th century, different approaches based on musical production and listening became essential as therapeutic aids in the treatment of mental and psychological disorders. The Argentinian composer and psychiatrist Rolando Benenson, who was one of the pioneers of music therapy, did not consider music as a common language without translation and allowing “to open channels of communication” in humans?