Healing Through Music: A Guide to Music Therapy

Music therapy refers to the use of various facets of music to promote physical, mental, and emotional health. In a typical music therapy session, the therapist will request the client to participate in certain musical activities, which can be listening, improvising, or composing, and the healing can either result from musical experiences or the personal relationship between the client and the therapist. Clients do not need to have previous musical training to benefit from music therapy.

History of Music Therapy

Human beings have been using music as a form of healing since the ancient times. Biblical records and documents from ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, Rome, and China reveal that music therapy was practiced thousands of years ago. Music therapy became a recognized profession during World War II, when Veterans Administration Hospitals in the United States used music to help traumatized soldiers recover from shell shock. In the year 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy was formed to promote the use of music for treating war veterans, as well as people with visual and hearing impairment, mental disabilities, and psychiatric conditions. This association became the American Music Therapy Association in 1998.

How do Music Therapists Work?

When dealing with clients, music therapists have to prepare, conduct, document, and evaluate every therapy session. The treatment begins with an assessment session, where the therapists will find out how the clients relate and respond to music, and proper plans will be devised to suit their individual needs. During the later stages of the therapy, the therapists will evaluate whether their treatment methods are effective, and they will make the necessary adjustments if their patients are not showing good progress.

How is Music Therapy Beneficial?

It has been proven that music therapy is effective in helping people overcome a wide range of health problems and disabilities, including physical handicaps, psychiatric disorders, sensory impairments, communication disorders, developmental disabilities, and medical conditions. It can also reduce stress, eliminate substance abuse, solve personal problems, and slow aging. Some people also undergo music therapy to improve their learning abilities and enhance their self-confidence.

How to Become a Music Therapist

Music therapists are typically trained musicians who wish to use their musical talents and passion to help other people. They need to have profound knowledge in music as well as psychology or medicine. To become a music therapist, one has to obtain an undergraduate music therapy degree from a university or college, complete a supervised internship of about 1,000 clinical hours, and pass a national examination that is conducted by the Certification Board for Music Therapists.

How to Find a Music Therapist

Music therapists can be found in many medical and psychiatric facilities across the country. They also work in schools, universities, community centers, training institutes, and prisons. Some music therapists also have their own clinics.