The power of music is a universally accepted truth. But we overlook music’s ability to heal. Sure, our society puts a premium on music for entertainment value, and it is certainly a constant, and ever-evolving, cultural influencer, but rarely is it acknowledged as the effective form of therapy it truly is—outside of integrative medical practices, of course.
The field of music therapy gained formal recognition following its use in VA hospitals after World War II, to aid in the healing process. Since then, the medical community has expanded the intervention for patients struggling with emotional and mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.
What Is Music Therapy?
The therapeutic intervention is tailored to the individual’s needs and is constructed to help a patient achieve their therapeutic goals. The musical intervention may involve music coming from the therapist or the patient playing a musical instrument and/or singing, the patient composing music, or the patient listening to or dancing/moving to a piece of music.
Regardless of the specific “delivery system,” brain scans reveal that music is one of only two activities (the other being exercise) in which the entire brain is stimulated. These interventions allow the patient to then express feelings or thoughts in a more complex and multidimensional manner than with words only and can help the patient address traumatic or uncomfortable situations non-verbally in service to their mental and emotional well-being.
Is There Evidence of Music Therapy’s Effectiveness?
As integrative practices and alternative medicine have become more common, further studies have identified the benefits of music therapy on mental and emotional conditions.