Stress Relief and Relaxation Through the Use of Music Therapy

In today’s fast paced lifestyle it is almost impossible to avoid stress whether we are at home or work. We must take any measures possible to help us manage such hectic lifestyles. Thankfully there are steps that we can take that will dramatically reduce the levels of stress that invade our everyday lives.

Learning how to truly relax will help you in your efforts to enjoy a stress free life. One of the most effective methods that you may use to bring a sense of ease to your life is music therapy. Listening to music has an amazing effect on how you feel inside and out.

Music therapy has been growing in popularity for the past years. We started our lives being carried in our Mother’s womb for the first nine months of our existence.

Many experts believe that the rhythmic beat of our Mother’s heart became so soothing to us that we created a deep seated need for some type of replication of that continual rhythmic pattern.

There are many different types of music that can be successfully used for creating a soothing, extremely relaxed atmosphere. Two of the most popular and widely used types of music are the natural sounds of nature such as a babbling brook, ocean waves or the sound of the trees rustling in the wind.

Then there is what is called New Age music which is a beautiful array of calming soundscapes. With the New Age music there are no melodies to grow tired of, no changing styles, beats or rhythms, just consistently soothing sounds with tranquil, slowly changing symphonic harmonies.

There has been much research done in the field of music therapy and it supports its effectiveness in a wide variety of areas including your overall mental health care. One of the strongest benefits of music therapy lies in its ability to promote relaxation.

The overwhelming amount of stress we all face in our lives these days leads to some very damaging effects on our health such as high blood pressure and increased tension which in turn will cause a vast array ailments.

This is why it is extremely important for all of us to search out methods that will help us in controlling the amount stress we are faced with on a daily basis.

Music therapy is so beneficial because it does not have to disrupt your day in any way, you can just simply have it playing in the background whether you are at work, home or in the car.

The benefits that you will receive just occur naturally, there is no effort on your part

Music has a way of calming the mind, body and soul. Many hypnotherapist use the soothing benefits of music to help guide their clients mind into a deep state of relaxation.

Once you begin to use music to help ease the tensions of the day it will not be long before you are hooked and you find yourself looking for every opportunity to just relax to the wonderful sounds of nature.

The use of music therapy has been shown to bring the listener into a more positive state of mind which has a wonderful effect on how that person views the world around them.

The calming benefits of the softer music will induce a sense of relaxation reducing the feelings of negativity which helps fight depression.

The damaging effects of stress are more evident in our high pressured society and you really need to take measures to eliminate the problems that can and will arise with your health and social interactions.

Turning to music therapy to help you with the overload of truly chronic stress that is taking over our lives is one of the most positive steps that you can take to bring some relaxation back into your life.

Encore! The Benefits of Music Therapy for Individual With Disabilities

Music therapy is a process that helps developmentally disabled individuals improve their mental and physical abilities as well as their self-esteem. Needs are addressed through music therapy and relationships are fostered between the therapist and individual. Music therapy is not only therapeutic for the ear but the mind and body as well. During interaction, it is important for people with disabilities to have to look forward to activity that is both advantageous and encouraging. Interaction teaches individuals how to communicate better and improve decision-making skills. It also facilitates communication and socialization among staff and individuals. Communicative development varies with individuals because of functioning ability. Communication tools increase the ability to initiate, anticipate, engage, and interact. At times, a person can have difficulty using objects based on joint attention, difficulty in interpretation, and motivation however since music is a universal language, people are able to find different ways to communicate.

When people hear music they can either feel a burst of excitement, or energy, when listening to an upbeat tempo. Conversely, listening to a classical piece may place the person in a soothing mood. Studies show that music affects the overall health of any person including respiration, heart rate and blood pressure. Music therapy communicates with the body through beats, melodies and lyrics and releases stress relieving hormones. The stress of living and managing a disability can be difficult for any individual. There are many things that an individual can encounter while dealing with a disability such as emotional, social and behavioral issues.

Individuals with disabilities who are considered to be introverts can also benefit from music therapy. The opportunity to use music as a therapeutic tool can also help mentally ill individuals from negative thoughts or with traumatic experiences. Therapy tends to garner positive results and effectiveness when it is supported not only by the individual but their environment. Environment includes family, friends, community and surroundings. With support the individual will be able to improve social awareness, academics, gross and fine motor skills and attention span. Music therapy can also decrease maladaptive behaviors and reinforce positive behaviors. One facet of music therapy that usually yields positive results is karaoke. Karaoke is an interactive form of entertainment where amateur singers perform various songs with recorded music and lyrics. Karaoke is used to improve socialization and self-esteem of any individual. If an individual is able to perform a favorite song and receive praise from peers, family or staff, the mood of the individual will be significant.

Music is known as a universal language and used to bring people together from unique walks of life. Different types of music and instruments help individuals cultivate old skills or develop new skills. For individuals with disabilities, music therapy is very rewarding regarding building self-esteem and overall participation. A person who has increased self-esteem will be able to achieve attainable goals, interact with the community and foster relationships.

Music Therapy for Autism

For many parents, autism is a frightening condition that often leaves them feeling disconnected from their children. The fact that the medical community at large still has a lot to learn about autism only exacerbates the issues families face when one of their loved ones is diagnosed with the condition. Treatment options for autism are limited, and generally require intense training at considerable expense. However, in recent years, music therapy has become increasingly popular as music not only has the power to calm and soothe, but may also be exploited as a means of communication.

As a non-verbal and non-threatening medium, music therapy is safe and useful for autistic children. Music activities are developed to address their special needs. For example, social play is one area in which children with autism struggle, but musical games that include passing an object back and forth are compelling while encouraging social interactions. With music, you also have the option to create a sound together, and many common symptoms of autism can be addressed. Eye contact can be encouraged with clapping games, attention issues can be addressed by playing an instrument; and a child’s favourite music can be used as a reward for achieving cooperative social behaviours such as sitting with a group of children in a circle.

More significantly, music therapy has been found to be very effective in helping children with autism develop speech. Communication is one of the major deficits seen in children with autism, especially with regards to expressive speech which is often impersonal or entirely void. Autistic children may be completely mute or rely on very basic communication tools such as grunts, cries, shrieks, or humming. Even more advanced autistic children often rely on very basic communication skills highlighted by a lack of expression or a monotone delivery. Yet, in the music classroom, teachers often relate rewarding experiences with autistic students as they become more engaged and interactive with the music and their classmates.

There is a wealth of scientific research that supports the idea that autistic children show sensitivity to music. Sometimes they play musical instruments extraordinarily well, and the goal of music therapy is to draw on these musical sensitivities to improve communication and social awareness. Some of these children may sing even when they do not speak, and an autistic child’s responsiveness to music can easily be adapted to non-music goals. Through consistent and systematic tasks, many autistic children benefit significantly from music therapy. Songs with simple words and repetitive phrases assist with language development, and the joy of music itself can be used to encourage socially beneficial behaviours. As music therapy continues to be an effective tool for autistic children, the applications of the therapy also continue to grow. Many therapists feel that music provides necessary insight into the thoughts and feelings of autistic children.

The Benefits of Music Therapy for Autism

A professional who specializes in autism can suggest different treatment for autistic’s that can have a significant positive effect on their behavior. One such treatment is Music therapy.

Music therapy is a controlled music experience that is used to facilitate positive change in human behavior. Each session of music therapy is carefully planned, carried out, and evaluated to suit the specific needs of each patient. Music therapy can include any of the following musical activities:

o Listening to music and/or musical creation

o Playing musical instruments (any instrument can be used)

o Moving to music

o Singing

As far as autism is concerned, studies have shown that music therapy has a significant, positive influence when used to treat autistic individuals. Participating in music therapy allows autistics the opportunity to experience non-threatening outside stimulation, as they don’t engage in direct human contact.

As was previously mentioned, music therapy is made specific to each individual. This is extremely important, because what may be positively received by one autistic may be negative to another. That being said, let’s take a look at the positive influence music therapy has had on autistic individuals.

Music therapy –

Improved socio-emotional development: In the first steps of a relationship, autistics tend to physically ignore or reject the attempts of social contact made by others. Music therapy helps to stop this social withdrawal by an initial object relation with a musical instrument. Instead of seeing the instrument as threatening, autistic children are usually fascinated by the shape, feel and sound of it. Therefore, the musical instrument provides an initial point of contact between the autistic and the other individual by acting as an intermediary.

Assisted in both verbal and non-verbal communication – When music therapy is used to aid in communication, its goal is to improve the production of vocalization and speech, as well as stimulate the mental process of comprehending, conceptualizing and symbolizing. A music therapist will attempt to establish a communicative relationship between the behavior of a child with autism and a specific sound. An autistic person may have an easier time recognizing or being more open to these sounds than they would to a verbal approach. This musical awareness, and the relationship between the autistics’ actions and the music, has potential to encourage communication.

Another form of music therapy that may help with communication is to play a wind instrument (IE flute). It is thought that by playing such an instrument, you become aware of the functioning of your teeth, jaws, lips and tongue. Thus, playing a wind instrument almost mirrors the functioning required in order to produce speech vocalizations.

Encouraged emotional fulfillment – Most autistics lack the ability to affectively respond to stimuli that would otherwise allow them to enjoy an appropriate emotional charge. Thus, since most autistics respond well to music stimuli, music therapy has been able to provide autistics with an environment that is free of fear, stimuli considered threatening, etc.

During a music therapy session, an autistic individual has the freedom to behave in specific ways that allow them to discover and express themselves when they want and choose. They can make noise, bang instruments, shout and express and experience the pleasure of emotional satisfaction.

Musical therapy has also helped autistic individuals by:

o Teaching social skills

o Improving language comprehension

o Encouraging the desire to communicate

o Making creative-self expression possible

o Reducing non-communicative speech

o Decreasing echolalia (uncontrolled and instant repetition of the words spoken by another)

Keep in mind that although music therapy can have positive effects on autistic individuals, it is vital that an autistic receives such treatment from a trained and experienced musical therapist.