Publication date: Oct 07, 2019
Music therapy isn’t about achieving musical goals, and the Music and Memory program, where custom playlists are curated for elderly people with Alzheimer’s and played for them on headset, is definitely not music therapy, they say.
It’s not just someone playing a guitar by someone’s bedside where you’re passive – it’s engagement,” says Carla Carnegie, a certified music therapist and founder of Willow Song Music Therapy Services in Otis Orchards.
While the earliest references to the therapeutic value of music in the U. S. date back to the late 18th century, the development of music therapy as a serious clinical profession kicked off in the 1940s, when the first academic programs in the field were founded.
“Music is a medium to help reach a therapeutic goal,” says Carlene Brown, director of the music therapy program at Seattle Pacific University.
Music therapy can address many of the issues facing people with Parkinson’s.
Music therapy may assist with healing from childhood trauma, help adolescents with behavioral health issues, and in particular, may be especially effective for people dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
A 2012 study found that people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who participated in music therapy saw greater improvements in their symptoms than those receiving cognitive behavioral therapy.
A 2017 U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs review of academic literature concluded that music therapy has potential as a useful tool to “reduce symptoms and improve functioning among individuals with trauma exposure and PTSD. “
One of Carnegie’s clients, a veteran with PTSD, experienced significant progress through music therapy.
For kids dealing with childhood trauma or other stressors, music therapy can provide a vital outlet for emotions and self-expression.
Aside from serving as an outlet, music therapy can also help regulate behavior and emotion for kids with severe behavioral issues.
According to a recent workforce survey and analysis conducted by the American Music Therapy Association, approximately 22 percent of music therapists reported working with kids in behavioral health settings, such as community health centers, juvenile detention facilities, schools and inpatient and outpatient treatment centers.
(Closer to home, Seattle Pacific University’s music therapy program runs a weekly drop-in program for homeless youth at New Horizons, a social service provider. )
At the Center for Music Therapy in Spokane, music therapist Kim McMillin works extensively with children who are on the autism spectrum.
Debbie Thomas, a mother of one of the kids, says that she’s seen substantial changes in her daughter since she began music therapy three years ago: “Her confidence in socializing has improved,” she says.
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