The Therapeutic Effects of Music Therapy

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AbstractDifferent alternatives are used when providing health care in the medical setting. The objective of music therapy is to achieve therapeutic effects coinciding with or without the use of drug therapy. Patients in the hospital setting and at home are utilizing this new wave of therapy. While opening gates for better communication during treatment, it also helps patients better manage their illness, disease, or stressful situation. Primarily, music therapy is used for patients suffering with long-term disabilities such as dementia, in crisis situations that have devastating mental effects, in recovering from surgery, and in the privacy of people's homes. Heard virtually everywhere, music is viewed as a hobby, means of fun or as an enjoyable leisure activity. Music is used to treat both the human body and mind while simultaneously providing stimulation and entertainment.

 The Therapeutic Effects of Music TherapyMusic encompasses a great deal of our everyday lives serving as a form of entertainment. Music is heard in many places such as in our cars, at parties, as background music, in doctors' offices or malls, and in the privacy of our own home. Those same music notes have traveled out of the traditional areas and into the hallways of hospitals and private practices around the country and the world. However, most people are unaware of the medical benefits music therapy has on patients in need. Music therapy has therapeutic effects on patients in and out of the hospital setting. "Music therapy is an established health service similar to occupational therapy and physical therapy…it is a powerful and non-invasive medium and unique outcomes are possible" (Music Therapy and Medicine, 2004). It addresses problems in the physical and psychological aspects of a human being. With this information, private practices, hospitals, and specialized medical units are using this new method of treatment.

Depending on the specialty, there are many associations within the medical field. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is one such association focusing solely on music therapy. The National Association for Music Therapy merged with the American Association for Music Therapy in 1998 to form the AMTA. The main objective of the ATMA is to increase awareness about music therapy and its benefits. The AMTA provides research findings and relevant studies about the practice of music therapy for interested professionals. Knowing there are standardized practices organized by specific associations creates more reliability and trust towards the intended therapy.

Music therapy, as a standardized practice in the medical setting, has become more of an acceptable means of therapy. Patients who have regularly been treated with drug therapy are shown to react the same or better with music therapy. In one article, studies show that "music…releases endorphins which reduce pain, while decreasing blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen consumption" (McCaffrey, 2003). Music therapy also "reduces stress and provides relaxation in mind and muscle tension" (Music Therapy in Response to Crisis and Trauma, 2004). Some studies indicate that there are positive changes in mood and emotional states as well. The client, knowing positive changes occur during music therapy, will become more compliant with the treatment. According to the AMTA, music therapy provides an opportunity for "non-verbal outlets for emotions associated with traumatic experiences" (Music Therapy in Response to Crisis and Trauma, 2004).

Various departments within the medical field use music therapy to treat patients. Music is used to alleviate stress in crisis and traumatic situations, though it is not a means to find a cure for these instances. Used to learn positive coping skills and to express feelings, music therapy has helped make a difference in the response to a crisis. During the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, people of all ages...
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