I’m a bona fide music enthusiast. In my view, there’s no situation that some form of music can’t enhance. Besides creating the irresistible urge to move to groove with it, I’ve have grown to appreciate the extraordinary healing power of music. So it got me to wonderin’, “is music inherently therapeutic in nature?”
Enough about me already, let’s delve into some data…
The abbreviated definition of Music Therapy via the American Music Therapy Association goes a little something like this:
“Music Therapy is an [evidenced based and] established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words.”
“Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.”
Whether it’s used to pep up the step on those dreaded Monday mornings, or to treat a chronic mental or physical illness, music is both unconsciously and methodically used to uplift the mind body and soul.
PsyBlog shares some noteworthy points on the psychological rationale for our adoration of song as well as the effects it has on our entire beings. To the former, writer Jeremy Dean suggests that there’s something about music that’s deeply connected to our personal identity. One look at anyone’s iTunes playlist can tell you that. He also talks about the ways in which music gives us insight into the world around us – and the people in it. An interesting point he also makes addresses interpersonal relationships. Dig what he says about women and music:
“Music is a point of conversation. We listen to it while we’re with other people and we talk to them about it. It’s a way of making a connection… One study tested whether exposure to romantic music makes a woman more likely to agree to a date Gueguen et al. (2010). The answer is, emphatically, yes. The percentage of women who agreed to a date almost doubled from 28% to 52% after they had been played some romantic music.”
Here’s another assertion: Music as diversion – which immediately had me thinking of elevator music, or that “smooth jazz” stuff they blast in dental offices and what have you (no offense to smooth jazz aficionados – for real). But what resonated with me most is the notion of music as a form of negative and positive mood management. In other words, turning that frown upside down and, as he puts it, “making our good moods even better.”
To the latter argument, Sir Dean cites a number of effects music is thought to have on the mind/body. He suggests it improves verbal IQ, provides favorable outcomes for anxiety and heart disease sufferers & mentions and the bonding effects of ensemble performance among individuals.
No doubt anyone reading this (and muchas gracias btwJ!) can vibe with some aspect of music as therapy. Feel free to share your thoughts on the healing nature of sound and music.
PS: I’ve pretty much had Sade’s Mermaid, Lenny Kravitz’s Travelogue and Deniece Williams’ Free on repeat as I wrote this piece, ha!