All music therapy uses some form of musical intervention to rehabilitate, maintain or improve various components of ones health physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological. Various activities and interventions can be a part of music therapy. Motor skill development or personal expression might come through learning the use of an instrument. Cognitive or higher brain function improvement could result from learning to compose music. Therapists utilizing The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music use music and imagery to uncover hidden emotional issues and provide insight that can enable resolution.
The American Music Therapy Association divides music therapy into various categories:
Music Therapy and Older Adults
The use of music therapy with the aging covers a gamut of disorders and disabilities. It can be as simple as providing a means of sensory stimulation for those who are depressed, residing in nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities. The familiarity of playing a favorite tune can also invoke a sense of security for those feeling isolated or restore family bonds. It has been used in cases involving senile dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinsons disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac and respiratory problems. Some of the goals of music therapy when dealing with aging or terminally ill patients are to provide positive reinforcement, a means of self-expression and communication, pain management, improvement of motor skills, relaxation and the reduction of a sense of isolation.
Music Therapy and Young Children
Music may be one of the first things a child responds to, occurring naturally in the environment and being a part of maternal care. It is also usually an enjoyable experience, so it is something one is more likely to desire and respond to positively . As a sensory stimulant, music is a developmental enabler. It can be both motivational and relaxing. Music practice can also be achievement-oriented, providing self-esteem. For those with socialization issues. For those with disabilities, it may provide a means of showing special or equal abilities of a musical nature. To achieve these and other ends, the music therapist will work with the child in various exercises like singing, playing, movement and listening. The style(s) of music and the instruments involved will be chosen based upon the specific needs and responses of the individual.
To these, and other ends, the music therapists will work in conjunction with other professionals like speech therapists, psychologists, and educators. Children can learn proper behavior or routines through instructions encoded in a song. Songwriting can provide a means of unifying a family, inviting cooperation, the sharing of experience and the development of trust. For those with learning disabilities like autism and attention deficit disorder (ADD), music can help draw out the patient and can provide a means of expressing their feelings, help improve academic performance and provide order and structure.
Music Therapy and Mental Health
Music therapy is a non-threatening modality, and one that can be done both alone and with others. It can be a useful means of initiating and expanding contact for someone with mental health issues. There is a wide range of conditions in which music may have a therapeutic effect anxiety disorders, depression, behavioral, personality and emotional disturbances, amnesia, catatonia, and others. The goal of therapy in these situations varies and can include improving coping and motor skills, providing an outlet for self-expression and a means of communication, reinforcing social interactive skills, reducing stress and anxiety, and increasing reality perceptiveness.
Music Therapy and Medicine
Music Therapy in medicine is tailored to the condition, prognosis and disposition of the patient being treated and has been used in a variety of therapeutic settings. Patients can utilize listening to music as a means of coping with pain and as an aid to relaxation for stress reduction. It can be a motivator in physical therapy programs and can help to focus attention in labor and childbirth. It has also been shown to boost the immune system. Patients with diabetes, chronic pain, physical limitations, cardiac conditions and a host of others have shown benefit. It is often used pre- and post-operatively for relaxation and pain management. It can reduce the need for pain medication. It can function as an auditory cue in biofeedback to relieve muscle tension or to mask unwanted or intrusive sounds.
Music Therapy and Education/Special Education
The Individuals with Disabilities Act mandated that equal educational opportunities be supplied to those with special needs. Music Therapy can play an enabling role in attaining the educational goals of these children. It assists with communication skills and integrating the child into the environment, helps develop sensory-motor capabilities, encourages socialization and participation in programs, while it provides encouragement and reassurance.