Music Therapy: Not an Ordinary Form of Treatment
Music Therapy: Not an Ordinary Form of Treatment
  • Reporter Chung Sung-joon
  • 승인 2014.11.19 11:06
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Music, existing in numerous different forms, has become a part of our lives -most people feel “awkward” and “empty” in places with utter silence. Some people often use certain music as a stimulus to bring out particular feelings such as excitement or to create an environment filled with serendipity, while others use it merely to relieve stress. In fact, these “uses” of music have been taken into account and professionally adopted into a form of medical therapy to deal with health issues that are “untreatable” by ordinary treatments. 
Music therapy is given to a certain group of people who have cognitive, social, emotional or even physical deficits to calm their minds down, to bring out their positive mood and to reduce stress that has been accumulated for a fairly long time. Unlike any other forms of treatment such as pills prescribed by doctors, music therapy does not have any harmful or negative side effects, meaning that it can be given to ordinary, healthy people as well. However, it is important to note that certain music can lead to agitation or stress and music therapy as a sole treatment for severe illnesses is not recommended.
Music is used as a tool to “communicate” and form a relationship with the patient. Depending on the patient’s type of illness, both mental and physical, a music therapist sets an objective for the particular patient. Apart from just listening, the patient is asked to sing, play musical instruments, dance or even attempt to compose to bring out multiple effects that amplify one another. For example, learning to play a musical instrument develops motor skills and a sense of coordination while singing highlights rhythm and breath control as well as intellectual development. Music’s ability to intensify positive emotions and feelings is one of the many reasons why it is truly effective to those who regularly suffer from depression, anxiety and frequent mood-swings. Some patients who are hiding their true-self, afraid to speak out their fears, are calmed down by controlling their rapid breathing rate through music.
It is scientifically proven that music beats do influence our brainwaves; specifically, they cause brainwaves to synchronize with the beat, causing the two to be in resonance. For instance, powerful and fast beats induce the listener to be more alert, brought about by sharper levels of concentration. Oppositely, slower and milder rhythms create a serene ambience that calms the listener. In a similar manner, music affects heart and breathing rate, ultimately leading to an activation of the relaxation response. Many studies show that music therapy promotes comfort, pain relief and relaxation, improving the quality of life merely by influencing moods and feelings which, in turn, give positive impact via a mechanism that no one has fully understood.
Although the science behind music therapy is not yet completely known, music does have a positive influence on us. It is music therapists’ task to look for the actual mechanism that occurs in the body to make a more effective, full use of music as a means of treatment in the future.