Music & Health: A Harmonious Relationship
The use of music and sound to promote health and well-being is nothing new. People have long used music as a way to feel better and to connect with others. Practices for using sound and music to affect health and behavior can be found all over the world. In Ancient Greece, music was seen as a way to soothe, energize, and, in the form of catharsis, “purge one’s soul.” Even today, there are ancient shamanic practices which use instruments and the elements of music to induce a healing process within others. Therefore, the allied healthcare profession of music therapy can be thought of as bridging the “old” with the “new.”
Music therapy as a healthcare profession got its start after World Wars I and II. It began with volunteer musicians playing music for veterans recovering in veterans hospitals. Doctors and nurses noticed that the music elicited profound physical and emotional responses. Because of this, formal training became required before musicians went to hospitals. Eventually, this led to the development of the first academic music therapy program in 1944. There are now more than 80 music therapy training programs in the US, with additional programs internationally.
In music therapy, a board-certified music therapist uses music to help people achieve goals related to their:
- physical health
- mental health
- emotional health
- social well-being
- sensory needs
- spiritual needs
Music therapists today are working in all areas of healthcare and education. You may see us in schools, hospitals, rehabilitation, eldercare, and hospice. Music therapists work with people of all ages. Because music is so versatile, music therapists can also work with people who are at different levels of physical and cognitive ability.
Research Supports the Benefits of Music & Relationship
Research supports the benefits of both music and relationship on a person’s health. Modern neuroimaging shows us that when a person plays or engages with music in some way, different parts of the brain get activated. This activation happens simultaneously and includes those areas of the brain involved with:
- Executive Functions, such as attention, focus, and planning
Along with this, music also affects breathing, immune system functioning, and pain perception. Music, when used in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, is powerful. This is why music therapy is such a versatile and meaningful way of working with people. In a fundamental way, we are naturally hardwired to respond to music.
Research in attachment and interpersonal neurobiology also illustrates the importance of relationship to a person’s health. Humans are social creatures. Yet, some of us are lacking quality relationships in our lives. We may isolate ourselves from others for a variety of reasons. This can be due to anxiety, depression, fear, or simply an inability to get out. Music can provide us with motivating and inspiring ways of connecting with others.
Therapeutic Relationship: The Heart of SoundWell Music Therapy
The therapeutic relationship is at the heart of the services SoundWell Music Therapy provides. Therapeutic relationship can occur in different ways. At the foundation is the interpersonal therapeutic relationship that occurs between a client and the therapist. A person can also have a therapeutic relationship to music, though. This can be to an instrument, a song, or a piece of music. The music becomes a part of them.
Experiencing therapeutic relationships helps a person feel:
This allows the therapeutic process to occur. It’s through the therapeutic process that insight, growth, and healing happen. It’s an internal thing that happens when a person is ready to experience it. The therapist and the music serve as guides and cheerleaders along the way.
Want to Experience It Yourself?
Contact Faith if you or someone you know could benefit from the music therapy services offered by SoundWell Music Therapy.