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Introduction To Music Therapy

Music is fundamental to the body, mind, and spirit. It is far more than what meets the ear or makes us dance, smile, cry, or become sad or joyous. It speaks to our inner beings and souls, and it transcends time. Music therapy is a holistic modality that provides the body with energy that wakes up the inner spirit, stirs up our emotions, and promotes healing.

In many cultures, music is a pure and cheap cure for many physical and emotional illnesses. For example, music therapy has been used to improve physical, mental, and restorative health and to regain speech and movement.

Music is also an art form and an expressive language for all cultures. Although music has been shown to have healing benefits, like many other alternative and complementary therapies, science has yet to fully explain the epistemology of this harmless non-pharmacological therapeutic modality.

For generations and in every culture, music has been referred to as "medicine for the soul." However, music therapy can be defined in different ways that encompass its wide range of uses. For example, Venes, Thomas and Wilbur Taber (2005) defines "music therapy" simply as the treatment of disease, especially mental illness, with music. In 2003, Keegan described music therapy as a nonverbal communication that has been used in rituals of celebration, funerals, and ordinary transitions of daily life. She notes that music therapy involves passive relaxation combined with listening to soothing, relaxing music for the purpose of changing behavior, physiological responses, and emotions via mind modulation.

The well-known music therapy program of the University Hospital of Cleveland defines music therapy as the systematic application of music in the treatment of physiological and psychosocial aspects of an illness or disability. This therapy focuses on the acquisition of non musical skills and behaviors, as determined by a board-certified music therapist, through systematic assessment and treatment planning.

According to Burns, Harbuz, Hucklebridge, and Bund (2001), music therapy is the use of sounds and music within an evolving relationship between client and therapist to support and encourage physical, mental, social, spiritual, and emotional well-being.

Music therapy is an established health service similar to occupational and physical therapy. Practitioners can use it to address physical, psychological, cognitive, and social functioning for all ages and cultures. Health care professionals are beginning to see the therapeutic values of music therapy as a powerful means of healing.

Source: Holistic and Complementary Therapies

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