Musictherapy applications cover a wide range of possibilities. In the case of thisresearch paper I decided to include the applications that I believe are mostsignificant and appropriate for incorporating when aiding a person that ishaving anxiety or depression issues.
I will initially describe an example of anintervention and a script that would be suitable to use on a guided relaxationsession. Consequently I will summarize scientific research in several majorareas of music therapy. Musical experiences are often reported to influence people’semotions consciously and unconsciously. In many instances music may be used tochange, create, maintain or enhance their emotions and moods on a daily basisfor their personal benefit.
This is known as affect regulation. A commonintervention in music therapy is guided relaxation. This practice is conductedby a music therapist though playing music that matches a pre-written relaxationscript. The therapist may say lines such as “Inhale, bring yourshoulders up toward your ears. Raise them up high…
. allow the muscles downthe sides of your neck and the top of your shoulders to lengthen and give upthe tension they were holding…” At the same time the music therapist performsmusic that is suitable and matches the physical tension that is being releasedwith musical tension that resolves and is therefore released simultaneously. Althoughthis practice continues to gain credibility of its effectiveness existing research has yet to answer questions of howmusic regulates affect, especially beyond the expressive properties of music.The research published in “Music for Affect Regulation” by Laansma M.M. aims toinvestigate how music functions to regulate affect, which affects it regulates,and whether music listening can be considered a successful affect regulationdevice.
The study that consisted in interviews were segmented in single andthree week studies. The main findings were that music helps through broaderaffect regulation strategies like distraction, introspection, and activecoping; music can for example distract someone from the affect or situation, orhelp the person think about the affect or situation in a rational way.1 I have personallyexperienced this during times that I’ve undergone a medical procedure such aswhen I had a wisdom tooth extraction. I asked my doctor if I could play myfavorite worship music in the background on my phone during the procedure.Through this experience I realized that having the music there made theprocedure a lot more bearable. Music is capable of playing a major role inpromoting happiness as well as relaxation. Music can function as a successfulregulation device with a range of underlying mechanisms helping through differentstrategies.
The insight gained into which strategies and underlying mechanismsare involved when music is used for affect regulation might be used for thebenefit of people’s emotional well-being.In a similar manner that music can be used to aid a person indistress endure or change single experience research conducted by Grocke, D. in”The Effects of Group Music Therapy on Quality of Life” provides evidence ofthe long lasting positive effects of music therapy. Studies were conducted to measure and determine how music therapy caninfluence a person’s quality of life. Additionally, scales that gage the levelsof social anxiety for persons with disabilities were implemented to help determinebefore and after music therapy outcomes. Various common music therapyinterventions such as: singing, improvisation, song writing, and recordingoriginal songs were implemented during a ten week period with one hour weeklysessions. The scales used to measure the outcomes are the Quality of Lifescale, the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale, and the Brief Symptom Inventory.The qualitative data that was gathered reflected improvement on variouscategories of QoL scale.
Through an interview process and by analyzing thethemes of the original songs written with the clients it was determined thatthere was not a significant impact on the BSI scale which indicates that anyimprovements was not subject to symptomatic changes. The music therapist concentratedon recurring themes during the sessions. One of them is how music therapy givesjoy and brings pleasure to those practicing it and receiving it. Another themecovered the benefits of working as a team. Consequently the therapist built pridewith the clients on their creativity and compositions. Interestingly the mostcommon topics of the songs were related to world peace, the hardships of havinga mental illness, personal faith is a source of support, living in the past is hurtful,and having a sense of belonging to a group is enjoyable.
2Without a doubt all of the topics of concern by the clients are topics that arecommonly expressed in music. The difference is that generally a person has tohave some musical knowledge or ability in order to be able to use music as amedium. Music therapy closes this gap and gives everyone the possibility toexpress their frustrations or their happiness since the music therapist has theknowledge of the music and he/she is able to guide the client in creating amusical expression.
I have heard of instances where a music therapist was ableto help a client write a song about their fight with cancer. In anotherinstance a music therapist helped a teenager write a song about difficultsituations in her life. The result was that this practice helped each personcope with their situation by helping them articulate the events and in thismanner enabled them to gain a different perspective. Along the lines of Songwriting,which is a therapeutic intervention that has received increasing attention inthe field of music therapy over the past decade, much of the publications onits effectiveness focus on clinical outcomes rather than methods of practice.The paper “Therapeutic Songwriting in Music Therapy” by Baker F.
aims todescribe the most frequently employed goal areas across a range of clinicalpopulations and compares its findings with other published literature. Thispaper outlines the responses to a 21-question online survey that were obtainedfrom 477 professional music therapists practicing in 29 countries with thefocus on approaches to songwriting within their practice in a single clinicalpopulation. Comparable exact tests were demonstrated significant correlations amongdifferent clinical populations.
Among the similarities between the practicesthe goals and outcomes of songwriting in clinical practice aligned with thefrequency that this intervention was implemented. In a significantly greater ofthe cases songwriting is frequently employed to treat developmentaldisabilities and ASD practice. According to the surveys answered by musictherapist songwriting in the music therapy literature is being represented withusage frequencies that are below actual implementation numbers. The surveyidentified that the most frequently endorsed goal areas included experiencingmastery, developing self-confidence, enhancing self-esteem; choice and decisionmaking, developing a sense of self, externalizing thoughts, fantasies, andemotions, telling the client’s story; and gaining insight or clarifyingthoughts and feelings.3Although writing music historically has been used to gain fame and recognitionwe can observe that another major purpose of writing music has been to share astory. Whether it is a personal story, a historical event or a fictional storyfor cultural or entertainment purposes music has demonstrated over and overagain to be a reliable means to carry a message.
Through music therapy we havefound that the benefits associated with individuals being able to convey theirmessage translate to the community as they aid people in becoming sociallycompetent and emotionally stable.Insummary music therapy applications to depression, anxiety and social challengesare demonstrating consistency, effectiveness and viability. Research studiesconducted consistently provide evidence supporting its effectiveness althoughare still in process of demonstrating the outlying factors that make it so.Guided relaxation is an effective intervention when aiding clients that dealwith anxiety and songwriting goals can help people increase their self-esteemand convey their stories through music.
1. Laansma, M. M.
, , P. J. (2016). “Music for Affect Regulation”:music listening in group receptive music therapy in the treatment of depression. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy,25(Sup1),40-40.2.
Grocke, D., Bloch, S., , D. (2009). The Effect of Group Music Therapy on Quality of Life forParticipants Living with a Severe and Enduring Mental Illness. Journal of Music Therapy,46(2),90-104.3.
Baker, F., Wigram, T.,Stott, D., & Mcferran, K. (2008). Therapeutic Songwriting in Music Therapy.
Nordic Journal of Music Therapy,17(2),105-123.