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Music Therapy

Mesothelioma patients have both psychical and emotional symptoms that need managing. Music therapy is an alternative treatment that is designed to relieve both.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

The musical therapy program can be designed in one of several different ways:

  • Improvisation
  • Receptive music listening
  • Song writing
  • Lyric discussion
  • Music and imagery
  • Performing musical compositions

The design of the program is based on the patient’s physical ability to participate.

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) addresses some common misconceptions about music therapy:

“That the client or patient has to have some particular music ability to benefit from music therapy — they do not. That there is one particular style of music that is more therapeutic than all the rest — this is not the case. All styles of music can be useful in effecting change in a client or patient’s life. The individual’s preferences, circumstances and need for treatment, and the client or patient’s goals help to determine the types of music a music therapist may use.”

How Did Music Therapy Originate?

Although the effects of music on a person’s ability to heal were first discussed in the writings of Aristotle and Plato, the actual practice of using music as an alternative therapy began after World War I and World War II.
Amateur and professional musicians went to Veterans hospitals to play for veterans suffering from both the physical and emotional aftermath of their wartime service. The doctors who treated these combat veterans observed that their patients responded favorably both in terms of their ability to heal physically and their mental outlook; and so they began requesting that hospitals maintain musicians on staff. However, it became apparent that hospital musicians needed some prior training to learn how to develop an effective musical program. In response to this need, Michigan State University began the first music therapy degree program in 1944.The American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998 to standardize the curriculum for degree programs in musical therapy and to establish the requirements for professional practice.

What Types of Training do Music Therapists Receive?

A music therapist is required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in music therapy from one of the American Music Therapy Association approved university programs. The curriculum for the undergraduate degree provides basic competency in musical foundations, clinical foundations, and music therapy foundations and principles as outlined in the AMTA Professional Competencies. Along with classroom time, a candidate for a bachelor’s degree in musical therapy must complete 1200 hours of clinical training, which includes a supervised internship. After completing their bachelor’s degree, musical therapist must pass the national board certification exam to obtain the credential Music Therapist – Board Certified, which is necessary for professional practice.

Research Shows that Music Therapy is Effective in Reducing Anxiety Caused by Chemotherapy

In a study published in the April 2011 edition of the Journal of Clinical Nursing, researchers observed 98 chemotherapy patients who were randomly assigned to three groups:

  • the music therapy group received one hour of music before chemotherapy
  • the verbal relaxation group received 30 minutes of guided relaxation before chemotherapy
  • the control group received usual care

The scientists found that music therapy had a greater positive effect on anxiety caused by chemotherapy than verbal relaxation and usual care. They also found that music therapy substantially increased skin temperature.

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