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What is Music Therapy?

Music can have therapeutic effects on anyone in a casual setting. If you’re trying to concentrate or stay calm, classical music may help. If you want to relieve frustration or celebrate, rock music may be a great way to do it. However, music therapy is also a recognized professional discipline with many benefits and applications. How does music therapy work?

Music therapists use musical experiences as a means of patient communication and expression in clinical work, education programs, and community outreach initiatives. This process stimulates emotional, cognitive, motor, social, and creative development in the patient in order to enhance or restore their functional abilities. Patients who don’t respond well to other types of therapy may make more progress with music therapy.

History of Music Therapy

Music was thought to have healing capabilities as early as the eras in which philosophers Plato and Aristotle lived. However, it did not commonly exist in a practical capacity until after the world wars of the twentieth century, when musicians began playing for wounded and traumatized veterans to assist in their healing processes. You may have even seen this portrayed in scenes from period dramas like Downton Abbey. E. Thayer Gaston is credited with elevating this practice into academic and professional programs in the mid-twentieth century.

What Are Some Benefits of Music Therapy and Who Can Benefit?

Many studies support the effectiveness of music therapy in reducing pain, anxiety, and stress. Other areas that have been studied for its use include autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, and various mental illnesses. It can be applied to mood disorders, binge eating disorders, dementia, and general cognitive dysfunction. Music therapy for dementia patients has proven successful, as have music therapy interventions for cancer patients and music therapy activities for stroke patients.

Singing and playing instruments can also be a great way for any child to tap into their creativity. Music therapy can help children build relationships and develop self-esteem and confidence.

Other Ways Music Therapy Can Be Beneficial

Music therapists are becoming more involved in additional fields, such as education, health care, behavioral health care facilities, senior living communities, individual and family support services, disaster relief programs, refugee resettlement programs, and juvenile detention centers.

The Community Music Center of Boston (CMCB) has offered a music therapy program since 1982. It is one of the longest-standing programs in Boston, and it serves over 300 clients per week. If you live in the Boston metro area and feel that you or a loved one might benefit from music therapy, consider enrolling in a music therapy program at CMCB. You can also support the nonprofit organization so that all local residents can enjoy the benefits of music education and therapy.

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