Music Therapy

I think a lot about the effects music can have on the health of the individual.  With that in mind, I would like to introduce my first guest to post:

Danielle Whitney is a junior at Blackhawk Christian School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  She is aspiring to a career in Music Therapy after high school.  She recently wrote a paper about music therapy, and I would like to share a few excerpts.  I hope that the information she shares will whet your appetite for learning about the importance of music:

How is it that music therapy calms patients and enables them to civilly interact with people unlike other treatments used by doctors? Music is known for relieving stress and tension because when listening to music, there are chemicals released in the brain that regulate mood, reduce aggression and depression, and improve sleep (Vail). These chemicals (melatonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, and prolactin) are released from separate parts of the brain, and can be measured in blood tests. As mentioned earlier, these blood tests are extremely important in that they are one of the few tangible ways to measure the progress of therapy. There are several factors that weigh in to determine how far patients have developed through therapy, but most of the progress made is not measurable by set standards. This is why blood tests are so crucial.

Research has shown that after experiencing music therapy, immediate results could consist of an increase in the patient’s likelihood to have “reduced muscle tension, improved self-image/increased self-esteem, decreased anxiety/agitation, increased verbalization, enhanced interpersonal relationships, improved group cohesiveness, increased motivation, and successful and safe emotional release” (“Mental Health” n.p.).

Dr. Oliver Sacks is a profound author, neurobiologist, and professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. He has been involved in many research-based projects dealing with music therapy and its effects on patients receiving treatment. In his book, Awakenings, Dr. Sacks reports that, “Patients with neurological disorders who cannot talk or move are often able to sing, and sometimes even dance, to music. Its advocates say music therapy can help ease the trauma of grieving, lessen depression, and provide an outlet for people who are otherwise withdrawn” (“Quotes”). Dr. Sacks was later interviewed by NPR about a case he dealt with where music therapy was used in recovery . He reported that a patient, who had never been exposed to or interested in music, was now being drawn to learning more about music and became so consumed in it that once recovered, his life was so drastically changed that he incorporated musical intervention in areas even outside of treatment (“Role”).

Danielle’s references for the above:

“Music Therapy and Mental Health.” Musictherapy. n.d. American Music Therapy Association Inc.     Web. 04 Mar. 2012.

Vail, Jane. “Music Therapy Helps Alzheimer’s Patients.” Shands Arts in Medicine. Apr. 2000. Web. 01             Mar. 2012.

“Definitions and Quotes about Music Therapy.” Musictherapy. n.d. American Music Therapy             Association. Web. 08 Mar. 2012.

“Alzheimer’s Disease: The Role of Music Therapy in Symptom Palliation.” Serendip’s Exchange. 24             Feb. 2009. Serendip’s Home. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.


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