Music Therapy

Topic Overview

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is the use of music to gain physical and emotional healing and wellness. A trained and certified music therapist, dance/movement therapist, or creative arts/expressive therapist can provide music therapy. Therapy sessions can involve listening to music, music-making, or both.

Research is beginning to reveal how music works to heal the body and mind.

  • The rhythm and tone of music can excite you or relax you. Music therapy can help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure and increase your ability to think, learn, reason, and remember.
  • Music-making is a healthy way of expressing yourself.

What is music therapy used for?

You can use music therapy to help your mental and physical health. It helps people express themselves, find new memories, and calm the body and mind through its rhythm, order, and predictability. Music therapy is sometimes combined with movement therapies, such as dance.

Music therapy:

  • May improve forgetfulness (dementia) by:
    • Improving your connection to others.
    • Helping the brain produce a calming substance (melatonin).
    • Improving how well you speak.
    • Improving long-term and medium-term memory.
  • May help babies born too early to deal with necessary but painful procedures. Crying is often affected by music.
  • Is used to reduce the pain of cancer treatment.

Is music therapy safe?

Music therapy is considered safe.

Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Freeman L (2003). Physiologic pathways of mind-body communication. In Mosby's Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach, 2nd ed., pp. 21–24. St. Louis: Elsevier.
  • Rodgers D (2006). Mind body therapies. In M Micozzi, ed., Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 3rd ed., pp. 280–312. St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders.

Credits

Author Eileen Ellig
Author Jeannette Curtis
Editor Maria Essig
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD - Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Last Updated June 30, 2009

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