Musical therapy involves having a patient produce and listen to music, either vocal or instrumental, in a therapeutic setting under the supervision of a skilled, licensed musical therapist. The idea is that music can be used as way of self-expression for people with mental health issues who might not be able to communicate with words alone.
The music selection and other aspects of the therapy are selected according to the individual needs of the patient and the progress he or she is making in treatment. The musical therapist guides this process as part of an interdisciplinary team which has developed a plan for the patient’s treatment.
Typically a musical therapist will have completed an approved program at the college or university level and will have completed an examination by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. They will have been designated Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC). There are a number of other, more advanced designations, including Registered Music Therapists (RMT), Certified Music Therapists (CMT), and Advanced Certified Music Therapist (ACMT)
Music therapy is not only useful for helping the patient’s self-expression, especially in regards to mental health issues, but also as a means of addressing these issues.
Making and listening to music helps create a more positive mood, develop a sense of control, enhance self-awareness and that of the environment, develop coping and problem solving skills, help social interaction and reduce conflict, and improve concentration, among other positive benefits.
There are studies that suggest that music therapy has had some success in addressing a number of psychological disorders, including schizophrenia and psychosis. It also relieves stress and helps alleviate a variety of negative symptoms. The beauty of the technique is that it has no side effects and is inexpensive to implement.
Five common approaches used with music therapy are:
- Songwriting. Songwriting can provide the opportunity for individuals with a mental health condition to express their feeling, moods, thoughts and emotions.
- Lyric analysis. Analyzing song lyrics can help individuals identify emotions. A music therapist can help a patient to connect words or phrases in a song to a deeper meaning.
- Improvisation. Improvisation is a self-expression technique in which the individual and music therapist relate to each other through creating music impromptu.
- Listening. Listening involves the individual taking in and reacting to live or recorded music.
- Playing instruments. Playing an instrument can give individuals who have trouble communicating an easy, gratifying way to express their thoughts and emotions.
Music therapy can be used independently or as a complement to other mental health treatments. Contact Staffing Plus to engage your next mental health provider.
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