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Music Therapy

posted Jan 19, 2014, 6:17 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 19, 2014, 6:17 PM ]

Throughout life, music positively and negatively affects our physical and emotional well-being. It affects bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and release of the body’s natural painkilling chemicals. Research shows it’s the first outside sensation to register with a developing fetus and the last to register with a dying patient. It was used during World War II to calm shell-shocked soldiers, and its use in medical and psychiatric hospitals, cancer centers, schools, alcohol and drug recovery programs, and correctional facilities has steadily increased.

Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing a client’s needs, the music therapist provides treatment by creating, singing, moving to, and listening to music. Through this musical involvement, the clients' abilities are strengthened. Some commonly found practices include developmental work with individuals with special needs; songwriting and listening in reminiscence and orientation work with the elderly; relaxation work; and rhythmic entrainment for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims.

It’s also a growing service provided in end-of-life hospice care. The primary goal of this care is to promote patients' quality of life by alleviating physiological, psychological, social and spiritual distress; and improving comfort. Although there are several forms of therapy (e.g., art therapy, aromatherapy, reflexology), 300 hospices surveyed indicate the most popular forms are massage therapy and music therapy. For more information about this, speak to Allison Setzke, a music therapist who cantors at many of our liturgies.