Music therapy is a form of therapeutic intervention that uses all the various elements of music to address the unique needs of patients, from emotional or behavioral development to improving upon communication and motor skills. Music therapy can include anything from simply listening or moving to music to singing or performing music or perhaps even composing music. Individuals who conduct music therapy can work in a variety of settings, including rehabilitative facilities, senior centers, correctional facilities, and in private practice organizations, to name a few. In the hospital setting, music therapy can be used to address symptoms of depression or address feelings of anxiety or apprehension. It can aid in movement for physical therapy or reduce overall muscle tension. In nursing homes, music therapy can provide individuals with opportunities to increase their mental, emotional or social functioning. Music provides stimulation, both intellectual and sensory in nature, and this can in turn improve a person’s overall quality of life.
There are many misconceptions about music therapy, especially about the specifics of the practice and who is able to serve as a practitioner. Music therapy is far more than simply listening to music on headphones; music therapy involves specific knowledge about various kinds of music and the emotional response they provoke. This knowledge is coupled with significant psychological understanding to ensure patients are exposed to the best possible musical options – both in terms of type of music and the manner in which it is used – to achieve a given goal. Practitioners must undergo extensive training and licensure proceedings, attending accredited schools of education and completing rigorous academic programs. Music therapy is rooted in ample quantitative and qualitative research, and practitioners are held to the highest standards of professional integrity and the quality of care they provide.