Music therapy uses music to promote a person’s wellbeing. It uses an individual’s connection to music to spur positive changes in mood and mental health. Music therapists may use a variety of methods to support these outcomes, such as playing instruments, singing, or dancing.
Music therapy can enhance communication skills, confidence, and self-awareness, as well as concentration and attention. Oftentimes, improvisation is also incorporated into this form of therapy.
Music & The Brain
Music affects the mind in profound ways. Each aspect of effect is processed uniquely by a specific area of the brain. For example, the frontal lobes interpret emotional signals of music, while the cerebellum processes rhythm. When listening to especially powerful melodies, the reward center of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens can even trigger physical responses, such as goosebumps.
It’s, therefore, no surprise that experts have been seeking to leverage the power of music for centuries. The first instruments are believed to date back 40,000 years, and the use of music therapy has its roots in Ancient Greece. Today, music therapy spans several disciplines and can be found in social care, private care, and educational centers alike.
What Sets Music Therapy Apart
Because it doesn’t require verbal communication, music therapy is often a powerful alternative for people who struggle with verbal communication. People with dementia, for instance, are ideal candidates for music therapy. Music can also be played in any environment; for example, patients who can’t leave their beds can still enjoy music for its mood-boosting benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Music Therapy?
On the topic of benefits, there are several compelling advantages of this therapy, including:
- Boosted memory skills
- Improved communication
- Better self-expression
- Improved ability to process complex emotions and memories
- Stronger connections to others
- Increased verbalization
- Decreased anxiety
- Greater self-esteem
Music releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone, which has short-term benefits on mood. It can also control stress hormones, including cortisol, to curb anxiety. It may be a particularly powerful tool to help children find fun and engaging ways to process thoughts and emotions.
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