What is Music Therapy?

Have you ever experienced life without music? 

The way it can lift your emotions or bring back memories? We use it for motivation, exercise, times of grief and times of celebration. 

Music has been around for centuries, and music is a part of our world, even if we don’t notice it. Imagine being able to harness the power of music to overcome or improve your quality of life and well-being.

While music therapy is a relatively new allied health profession, the evidence-based benefits of music have been universal across the world and through the ages.

Music therapy allows us to improve your health, both mentally and physically. It is a specialised program designed to improve health, functioning and well-being for clients of all ages.

It uses a range of techniques, including listening to music, discussions, playing instruments, singing, songwriting and more. Your music therapist tailors their program so you can get the most out of the therapy.

What does a music therapist offer?

A music therapist can guide your therapy based on your specific needs. The therapy can improve a wide range of ailments, both mentally and physically.

For individual therapy sessions, your music therapist will sit with you to establish your goals and needs, and may need to talk to your family, carers or other health professionals to ascertain the best understanding of your situation. 

They will then advise a treatment plan that works with you and your needs. This may be as simple as singing or listening to music, or a combination of different techniques.

There are also group sessions, which promote a sense of belonging and community, providing amazing benefits to those who feel isolated and alone. Indigo Therapy also conducts community outreach programs for clients who are not able to travel.

How long has music therapy been around for?

It can be argued that music therapy has been used as a healing implement for centuries dating back to the times BC. 

However, in Western Cultures, the use of music therapy as a recognised allied healthcare profession came from the aftermath of the two World Wars, when musicians would travel to hospitals and play music for soldiers with war-related emotional and physical trauma.

In Australia, the Aboriginal people used the didgeridoo as a healing tool and was believed to help heal broken bones, muscle tears and other illnesses. It is not known officially when the didgeridoo was developed. 

It was 1949 when music therapy began being used unofficially by the Australian Red Cross, before the key Australian body, the Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was founded in 1975.

Benefits of music therapy

Deep down, we all know that music can help us feel emotionally better, remind us of wonderful memories in our lifetime and to help heal a heartbreak (Total Eclipse of the Heart anyone?).

But there is now strong clinical evidence that points to immeasurable benefits for our physical and emotional health and well-being. These benefits range from improving our mental health and moods. 

It is also known to improve speech, communication and social skills; along with physical body movement, co-ordination and physical function. 

Music therapy can also help memory, attention and cognitive function, as well as a range of pain management. 

This is why music therapy can be an amazing option for patients of all ages, from early childhood through to aged people or those in palliative care.

Reducing anxiety

The sounds of music and the evidence surrounding music therapy have found that it can improve your anxiety or stress levels, regulate your mood and energy and increase motivation.

It can also help those on the Autism spectrum or other disorders, by allowing them to manage their anger and frustrations and manage challenging behaviour. This is especially worthwhile with children who relate exceptionally well with music therapy. 

Expressing trauma

As it was discovered during the World Wars, and even used by Florence Nightingale from the Crimea War, music therapy has long been used, as a way, to heal trauma and grief.

There are many disorders relating to trauma and PTSD and music therapy can perfectly align with other healthcare providers to assist in the healing or improvement of these conditions.

Research also found music therapy affects and improves the body’s ability to deal with pain, by reducing the pain perception and allows the right conditions for a faster recovery after medical procedures.

Encourages memory recall

Who would have thought that music therapy can actually improve your memory, attention and cognitive function?

What an amazing therapy for older people suffering from dementia or other disorders, with the added benefit of improving their sense of emotional wellbeing. Who doesn’t love a good sing-a-long?

It does make sense when you can hear a song that takes you back to a certain time of your life, both good and bad. 

Music therapy increases the functions of self awareness, inhibition, non-verbal and verbal working memory and problem solving.

Improves speech and communication

Speech, communicating and social skills are all added benefits of music therapy.

 Specifically in the areas of verbal and non-verbal communication, physical speech function, increasing social interaction and independence and becoming better at finding positive and new ways to deal with situations.

Improves physical movement

This type of therapy improves body movement, co-ordination and physical function, which can benefit all ages, particularly as we get older and our movement starts to become impaired.

It is known to improve our gross motor function and our fine motor function skills, along with improving balance, physical independence and respiratory muscle strength and control.

It can also help regulate bodily functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, as well as helping sleep.

When should you see a music therapist?

There are a wide range of reasons that could benefit you from seeing a music therapist, across a wide range of fields. 

But to give you an example, music therapy can benefit those who suffer a neurological injury, degenerative conditions or developmental delays, such as speech, language or voice problems.

Those with intellectual disabilities, dementia, and neurodevelopmental disorders, along with bereavement, adjusting to a disability and trauma are also found to benefit from music therapy.

Even those undergoing cancer treatment, chronic pain conditions, burns and physical rehabilitation can also benefit.

Because there are such a wide range of benefits, the best way to see how music therapy can help you is to meet with a music therapist to discuss your situation. 

They will be able to outline how they can help and work on a plan suited to your situation.

Are music therapists qualified?

At Indigo Therapy, our music therapist, Ronen, is a musician and a qualified counsellor. He is passionate about his work and helping others. 

There is nothing better than having your condition healed or improved by someone who actually cares and is amazingly talented.

Where is music therapy used?

Music therapy can be used in a wide range of situations as described above, and they can be individual sessions, group sessions, or part of outreach community therapy as well. 

Please view our music therapy services for more information.

What happens in a music therapy session?

Well a music therapy session can vary widely, based on the type of session (individual, group, community) and your individual situation.

It can involve group singing, which always makes people feel better, or listening to music, discussions, playing instruments and even songwriting.

As you can imagine, the sessions are also tailored to the age of the clients. 

For example, it will be much easier to relate with an adolescent using music they resonate with, as opposed to an aged person with dementia, who may prefer to listen to music from their younger years.

Music therapy case study

To give you a perspective on the benefits of music therapy, we present an amazing piece of music, which was produced and released publicly, by one of our clients.

The 51-year-old had previously been a model for Chanel and also worked as a personal clothing designer. Her creativity doesn’t stop there, however, as she has completed numerous Bachelors and Masters degrees, and has a passion for history and science. 

Not only is she extremely talented, but she found a way to express her emotions through music and release it to the world.

Music therapy helped her to adjust to her new life wheelchair-bound due to a stroke a few years ago, which left her paralysed on her left side.

The song, Slan Dor, which is Norwegian for dragonfly, provided her with an outlet to express her emotions relating to her new life situation.

Published with permission.

Book a music therapy session with Indigo Group today

Now that you understand what music therapy is all about and how it can possibly improve both your physical and mental wellbeing, Indigo Therapy is the place to go with all ranges of programs available to suit your individual needs. 

You can contact Indigo Therapy through their music therapy services. Let the music begin!