Music Therapy: As A Healing Mechanism

Since the beginning of time, music has been employed for therapeutic purposes. Regarding its manner of operation, there have been numerous theories developed over the ages, including prehistoric notions, the idea of creating tissue vibrations, and more recently, the idea of interfering with organisms' physiological processes. Only after World War II did music therapy have a scientific foundation, and the phrase "music therapy" wasn't even coined until around 1950.

Many medical specialties, as well as particular pedagogies and mental health protection, use contemporary music therapy. Along with other forms of art therapy, psychotherapy, and physiotherapy, it complements pharmaceutical treatment as a component of complex treatment that calls for the close collaboration of therapists, physicians, and psychologists.

"Music therapy is a well-established method of treatment to assist people address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social problems." "Music decreases cortisol levels in the body as well as blood pressure and heart rate. It eases tension and could make one feel better.
Anywhere we go, whether it be a restaurant or a business, there is frequently music playing in the background. According to scientific research, music has a remarkable impact on people. It can help stroke patients regain their physical and cognitive abilities, lessen depressed symptoms in dementia patients, and even lessen pain and hasten recovery in surgery patients. Of course, it can also be healing.


As was previously indicated, following World War II, music therapy developed on a scientific basis. Around 1950, the phrase "music therapy" was first used, but it meant quite different things. The goals and purposes of music therapy varied, as a result of the employment of numerous disciplines, such as psychiatry, psychology, pedagogy, or rehabilitation. Music therapy was first described as "a technique of exploiting the multilateral influence of music on psychosomatic human situations in numerous ways" by T. Natanson .Later, he broadened his definition and stated that "music therapy is one of the many elements of planned operations directed at rehumanizing contemporary life by multilateral use of different forms of music for protecting and restoring human health and effecting a positive influence on the environment in which a human being lives and is active, as well as on interpersonal relations in that" .
Galinska later defined "music therapy" as the systematic and methodical application of music in holistic medical operations, including diagnosis and personality development, based on an interdisciplinary approach that integrates music, psychology, and medicine.
Therapy, as stated by to M. Janiszewski, is "a discipline taking advantage of music in a directed, multifunctional, holistic and systematic method to supplement procedural, pharmacological treatment, rehabilitation, psychotherapy and specific pedagogies"

Currently, international organisations involved with music therapy employ many definitions. The World Federation of Music Therapy, Incorporated (WFMT), the only international organisation devoted to the worldwide development and promotion of music therapy, is the most significant of these organisations. In 1985, in Genoa, Italy, at the 5th World Congress of Music Therapy, it was founded.
Depending on where it is: "In order to meet a client's physical, emotional, mental, social, and cognitive needs, a qualified music therapist may use music and/or musical elements (sound, rhythm, melody, and harmony) with a client or group. This process is intended to facilitate and promote communication, relationships, learning, mobilisation, expression, organisation, and other pertinent therapeutic goals. Through prevention, rehabilitation, or treatment, music therapy attempts to maximise a person's potential and/or restore their functions so they can attain greater intra- and/or interpersonal integration and, as a result, a higher quality of life " (WFMT, 1996). On the other hand, the most recent definition provided by the American Music Therapy Association is as follows: "The well-established medical field of music therapy employs music to meet the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs of people of all ages. Music therapy fulfils the requirements of children and people with impairments and diseases while also enhancing the quality of life for those who are healthy. Music therapy interventions can be created to support mental and physical health, reduce stress, ease pain, express emotions, improve memory and communication, and support physical rehabilitation." (AMTA, 2005)


The definitions given above lead to the broad range of applications for music therapy. Modern music therapy is utilised in medicine, as well as in specialised pedagogies and mental health protection, as a sort of psycho- and physiotherapy. It is most frequently used as an additional technique in holistic approaches to treatment. It can be used in psychiatry, among other things, to treat dementias, addictions, depression, anxiety, and psychotic illnesses, as well as to safeguard mental health. Children with mental, physical, and visual problems, as well as those who are autistic, are the main populations for which music therapy is utilised to help recovery. Numerous other medical specialties, including cardiology, geriatrics, obstetrics, and paediatrics , as well as dentistry, surgery, intensive care, and palliative medicine , also use music therapy. Studies have shown that using music therapy can help people with various types of pain, sleeplessness, and pre- and post-operative stress. Both hospital and outpatient or sanatorium treatments can benefit from music therapy. There are also stories of these therapies being used in jails and sanctioned schools.

Although music has been used therapeutically since ancient times, it wasn't until after World War II that this practise gained scientific support. Music therapy can be successfully used in many areas of medicine, rehabilitation, and pedagogy thanks to its broad application, especially when other medical treatments are unsuccessful (for example, in cases of advanced dementias or palliative care). However, more research is necessary to fully establish the efficiency of this type of therapy in scientific terms.
Above all, it must be kept in mind that it is a type of holistic medicine. With the rigorous cooperation of 6/7 doctors and psychologists, music therapy complements pharmaceutical psychotherapy and physiotherapy, along with other forms of art therapy.

Sriparna Mukherjee
Amity University, Kolkata

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