Music Therapy

“Music Therapy,” a medical practice supported by scientific research, describes the application of music to the treatment of health problems. It works because music affects brain activity, which in turn alters human behavior. In this way, music can change an individual’s condition. Therapists use music therapy to treat a wide variety of health problems, be they emotional, cognitive or physical. Music makes sense as a form of therapy because most members of society already relate to music on some level. Music is familiar to clients and takes less adjustment than other forms of therapy.
Music therapy functions in several ways. It aids in the:

  • Enhancement of social behavior in educational settings
  • Expression of emotions for patients with psychiatric needs
  • Improvement of memory in Alzheimer’s patients
  • Manipulation of hormone levels and different biomedical chemicals in medical patients
  • Improvement of neurological abilities having to do with motor skills and cognitive functions
  • Achievement of relaxation and enrichment in life experience

Music therapists must complete an approved music therapy program at a university of their choice, as well as an internship, before they are eligible to take the music therapy certification exam. Only after an aspiring music therapist passes this exam can he or she practice music therapy. Music therapy is a practice comparable to occupational therapy or physical therapy.

In practicing music therapy, a trained music therapist first evaluates the relevant health conditions of a client. Then he or she designs appropriate therapy sessions which vary in format to fit an individual client’s need. These sessions, among other activities, may include:

  • Music making
  • Music listening
  • Activities with lyrics
  • Music and visuals

Music therapy is used in homes, hospitals, nursing homes and psychiatric facilities for the following reasons:

  • To create a relaxing setting
  • To relieve pain when paired with medication
  • To brighten a patient’s morale
  • To encourage physical activity (for patients who are rehabilitating)
  • To bring on sleep
  • To calm anxiety
  • To maintain quality of life
  • To improve coordination skills
  • To strengthen communication

Since 1994 music therapy has been covered by some state health services, so long as in each case it fulfills the requirements of an “active treatment.”

For more information about music therapy and how it can help you, contact Carolina Pediatric Therapy and/or visit:, &

Music Therapy
Published: July 3, 2008 © Carolina Pediatric Therapy

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