How can music therapy help? Many different ways…
Below are real results I’ve witnessed over the years of my experience working with many different clients. Music can have an affect on any and every aspect of a person. Everyone’s relationship to music is unique, so outcomes tend to be broad and vary from person to person. It is very common to see results in these areas throughout the course of music therapy.
Clients will often connect with other group members or the therapist through various ways such as eye contact or a smile in response to singing and other activities.
I’ve seen clients in a group become aware of the people around them by turning to greet others during the opening song or by acknowledging them from across the circle during an activity.
Clients in a group setting will oftentimes begin conversations with one another when the therapist asks a question within a musical activity. Music lays a foundation for social engagement by putting people as ease and creating a comfortable, normalized environment for interactions to take place, helping residents build relationships with each other in community.
I’ve witnessed clients sitting next to each other reach out and hold hands because of the connection that music brings.
Many clients who have limited mobility due to injury, disability, or aging say they feel better after gentle movements and stretching, deep breathing and relaxation exercises, all of which are done to music.
I've had clients spontaneously get up and dance during sessions or dance in their chair.
Whether it’s toe tapping, hand clapping, a shimmy or a shake, countless times, I’ve witnessed music arouse body movement.
Memory & Recall
Clients who are not able to remember what they had for breakfast or what they did the previous day are often able to recall song lyrics when prompted by music.
In my work with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, I’ve seen the spark in a person’s eyes when a particular song brings a client back to a certain time in their life. Sometimes the emotions come with it, and it’s like experiencing it all over again.
Oftentimes, clients share life stories as a result of a song that triggered a specific memory.
Emotional Support & Self Expression
Clients who may have trouble expressing themselves or who don’t have anyone to talk with are often able to self express both musically and verbally by sharing their thoughts and feelings with group members or the therapist.
I've helped many clients find joy in the midst of serious illness or disability.
Clients sometimes come to a session with a completely flat affect. Over the course of the session, their face brightens, and they're able to express a wide range of emotions.
For many clients, music therapy helps support them through the emotional ups and downs of aging.
I’ve had clients go from restless, agitated or anxious to calm and relaxed.
Music therapy has been a form of spiritual support for individuals I’ve worked with. Clients can request music at any time. If I don’t know a song, I learn it and bring it back the next session. This includes religious songs and hymns.
Music tends to put people at ease and create an environment where they feel safe to open up. I've had clients share their spiritual beliefs with me before. Sometimes they share experiences that go all the way back to their childhood, and it turns into a time of reminiscing.
Communication is a basic human need. Music therapy can create a space for clients to communicate with each other and the therapist when they otherwise might not have opportunity. Music is a form of communication and often provides natural prompts for verbal and nonverbal exchanges. The therapist also utilizes music to maximize communication.
A client who had suffered a stroke had lost her ability to speak. I sat down right next to her and began singing a familiar song to her. Staff and caregivers were amazed when she began to audibly sing with me.
The most common nonverbal feedback I receive from clients in response to music activities is laughter and smiles. Verbal responses include exuberant comments such as, “That was fun!”
I've had clients who never thought they could play an instrument pick up one that they've never played before and improvise a solo while the group listens and supports them.
Clients with a special love for music get to regularly explore and enjoy their interest when they otherwise may not have the opportunity.