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Music has great therapeutic effects

The power of music in music therapy sessions – Psicoterapia La Sal

Music has been with us forever; to celebrate, think, talk and remember. If we want to be happy, we will surely think of a song; to suffer for love, we will have another one and not to mention whether we want to remember our youth. That is why International Music Day is celebrated every first of October. There is a way to use it for therapeutic purposes and backed by science: music therapy. Let's meet her!

What is it?

According to the Chilean Association of Music Therapy, it includes the “professional use of everything related to music to intervene in medical, educational and everyday environments, optimizing the quality of life, improving health and well-being in all physical, mental and psychological areas.” .

Rodrigo Quiroga, Chilean music therapist points out that this process must be guided by a qualified music therapist. Currently, many universities in Latin America offer it as a specialty degree. It is a treatment that requires objectives and to be systematic over time, he points out.

A therapy that has many tools

Music has many edges, and we can get the most out of it by using it as a therapeutic tool. Therefore, music therapists use:

  • Rhythm, tone and timbre
  • The textures and shapes
  • The melody
  • Using music as a language, not just playing a record

With this, following clear objectives and knowing the effects it has, it is possible to generate changes in people. Such as:

  • Motor, communication and ear-body coordination development
  • Memory and creativity when creating a rhythm, melody or writing a song
  • Relaxation, by using sounds that are pleasant for people
  • The development of social skills when being in a musical work environment
  • Using people's responses and connections to music to stimulate positive changes in mood

Therapy involves creating music with instruments, singing, moving to the music and in some cases just listening to it. Another very important moment is the patient's relationship with his therapist. On many occasions through music, and in moments of subsequent conversation, it is possible to explore the most difficult emotions.

A therapy that goes very well with medical treatments

Music has great effects on people, as pointed out in a previous article in Vida y Salud, the study on the benefits of music in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In the words of his co-author Dr. Rafael Ramírez: “Children with ASD frequently have intact music processing and there are even studies that confirm that they are better at processing and recognizing tone than neurotypical people (people who do not suffer from neurodevelopmental disorders). )”. One of the great jobs that is done with these children is for them to be able to express their emotions facially, and in relation to that he points out that "we thought about using music to reinforce the identification of emotions in facial expressions."

There is a large amount of research that is providing real benefits thanks to the joint work of music therapy with traditional medical therapies. Next, we can see some applications:

  • Anxiety: people who have to face a risky operation, a very stressful event and post-traumatic anxiety have seen their levels decreased. In an experiment in Taiwan with university students, they reported having positive thoughts, relaxation, and confidence in them.
  • Depression: music therapy, together with pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological treatments, have a positive impact. Increases the ability to communicate, express feelings and be functional. Improving the feeling of well-being in music therapy allows medical treatments to have a greater effect.
  • Cancer: It is not a cure for cancer, but it helps relieve the anxiety and depression caused by the condition, which can help mitigate the adverse effects of treatments such as chemotherapy.
  • Children and adolescents: allows you to diagnose disorders that appear at this time in life, such as mood, anxiety and eating changes. It allows supporting young people who suffer from bullying, domestic violence problems, separation, suicide attempts, among others. As previously mentioned, music therapy helps make processes fluid and lead to greater self-reflection and expression with professionals, reduce anxiety, increase confidence, and learn to listen.
  • Heart problems: research from 2013 indicates that it improves heart rate, breathing and blood pressure in people with heart disease. Just like those who had a heart attack or stroke, it helps them recover motor functions.
  • Memory: due to the characteristics of music therapy, it has been seen that it allows older adults to work on their memory and calm them down in those moments when they do not remember something. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's, along with medical treatment, music therapy can help mitigate the progression of the disease, but not stop it.

In February of this year, 2022, an article is published in the journal Scientific Reports, from the prestigious Nature group, led by Nicola Brienza, from the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy. They observed that the effect of a music therapy session significantly lowers anxiety levels, as well as oxygen saturation in patients hospitalized with Covid-19. Although it does not replace medical treatment, it is an example of the improvement that combined treatment can have.

Something we can do ourselves magazine asked music therapist Jenni Rook for some tips on creating a playlist to help reduce stress levels. This is what it says:

  • Use familiar music, start with your own music collection. This way you can associate music with happy moments in your life
  • Use music you enjoy, don't listen to something your family or friends like. Know what you like and what is associated with different moods. It could be due to the speed of the song, the volume, and the voices or instruments.
  • Find music that speaks to you. Let him be an empathetic friend, who validates your current feelings.
  • Consider music without lyrics, that will increase your imagination since you will create the story you want to tell.
  • Order your lists to reach the mood you want to have
  • Trust your musical intuition, although there are music therapy professionals, you are the one who can best know what will make you cry, or motivate you to run that extra mile.

Perhaps when reading this article, and if you were alive in the 90's, "the Mozart effect" will surely come to mind. It was thought that by accompanying pregnancy with Mozart music, babies were born with a higher IQ. It had a great impact, generating a prominent industry. Researchers deny such an effect ad nauseam and mention that Mozart's music only increases the ability to fold paper or navigate a labyrinth for a few minutes.


"Because prevention is better than cure"

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