The definition of music therapy varies from person to person. If you are asking a professional what music therapy is, you will get a technical and logical explanation of the methods and the uses. If you ask a patient, you might get a list of the benefits as well as the techniques they use in their everyday lives. Each definition is accurate, but it’s also a bit more complicated than even these two outlooks can contain. The definition of music therapy is not just about the ‘what’ and the ‘how,’ it’s also about the ‘who’ and the ‘where.’
When you begin the definition of music therapy, you need to acknowledge the presence of music in the therapy practice. Music can be used in a variety of ways – through listening, sharing and even by creating it in the office setting. As the patient listens to and talks about the music, they are shifting the brain chemicals and waves in their head, helping them be able to process problems they might be having along with allowing them to feel more relaxed and open to solutions to those problems.
Patients might be asked to listen to specific songs as a part of the definition of music therapy. Other therapists might have the patients bring in music they want to hear or share. Still other therapists will have their patients write out new lyrics to songs to help them process difficult things in their lives, while still other therapists will ask clients to listen to music and to figure out what it means to them – a sort of Rorschach test for their moods and their mental health.
The good news is that the definition of music therapy can extend to a variety of groups and problems. Not only is music therapy good for music lovers, but it’s also a good tool for those with mobility programs or those in physical rehabilitation centers. You might also find the soothing music played in the background of a therapeutic setting helps you talk about difficult feelings and events that you wish to share with your therapist, even if the music is never directly addressed in the session itself.
You can find music therapy in a variety of settings for all ages. Some after school care centers like to use music to help children learn to interact with each other, while hospice care centers use music to help patients deal with pain or with their own grief. Those who are in physical therapy might find that high energy music helps to motivate them and to make them push through their goals while those with Alzheimer’s may have more ‘good’ days because they listen to music they are familiar with –from times they can still remember.