The Effects of Music Therapy on Mentally Handicapped People

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  • Topic: Music therapy, Therapy, Music
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  • Published : April 21, 2002
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The Effects of Music Therapy on Mentally Handicapped People

Music therapy is a controversial but effective form of rehabilitation on mentally handicapped people. A great amount of research has been completed on this subject. It has been proven that our brains respond to music as if it were medicine. Music therapy is not a commonly used health care, but recent studies have suggested it can have a wide range of benefits.

Music therapy is the prescribed use of music and related strategies, by a qualified therapist, to assist or motivate a person towards specific, non-musical goals. This process is used in order to restore, maintain, and improve emotional, physical, physiological, and spiritual health and well being. At the heart of music therapy is vibration. This is backed up by modern physics, which has taught us that all matter is in a constant state of vibration. Everything has a unique frequency. Illness occurs when some sort of dysfunctional vibration intrudes on the normal one. Sound can be used to change these intruders back to normal, healthy vibrations, which restores health.

Although music therapy is a fairly new method of health care, it dates back thousands of years. "The use of sound and music is the most ancient healing modality." It was practiced in the ancient mystery schools of Egypt, India, and Rome for many thousands of years. In the Iliad, Apollo, the mythical god of music and medicine, stopped a plague because he was so pleased with the sacred hymns sung by Greek youths. Pythagoras, who discovered that all music could be expressed in numbers and mathematical formulas, founded a school that trained students to 2

release worry, fear, anger, and sorrow through singing and playing musical instruments.
Today, the power of music remains the same, but music is used much differently than it was in ancient times. Music therapy in the United States began in the late 18th century. The profession of it began to develop during World War II when music was used in Veterans Administration Hospitals, as an intervention to address traumatic war injuries. Veterans participated in music activities that focused on relieving pain perception. Many doctors and nurses could see the effect music had on their psychological and emotional state.

Since then, colleges developed programs to train musicians how to use music for therapeutic purposes. In 1950 a professional organization was formed by a group of music therapists that worked with veterans, mentally retarded, and the hearing and visually impaired. This was the beginning of the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT). In 1998, NAMT joined with another music therapy organization to become what is now known as the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). AMTA's mission is "To advance public awareness of the benefits of music therapy and increase access to quality music therapy services in a rapidly changing world."

Music therapy helps people in a crisis and assists those who may be dealing with issues of everyday living. The nature of music therapy encourages the development of positive self-esteem. Even though not everyone is supposed to be a musician, music therapy can be a way to explore the human need for self-expression and creativity. Through improvisation and song writing, it can 3

help to identify and resolve conflicts slowing down the emotional and personal growth. It can also assist in the rehabilitation of people with speech difficulties and facilitate learning, which provided opportunities for meaningful communication. Music therapy is a process which builds relationships. Because almost everyone responds to music at some level, it can be used to develop a trust relationship with the therapist and with other people.

There are many accomplishments that music therapy can make. It can manage pain, increase body movement, lower blood pressure, ease depression, and enhance concentration and creativity....
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