Music Therapy: A Guest Post

–Today I have a guest post from Lucy in the UK. She contacted me after she noticed that we are both in the mental health field. She wrote this informative article about music therapy that I think is very relevant. I can definitely say that I’ve seen changes in many of our clients when music is playing. From them performing solo dances in the talent show, to tapping their feet and swiveling in their chair at holiday parties, to playing an instrument that they made. Music is very healing for most people with the ability to enjoy it.–

Combining Music Therapy And Care Mapping As An Exciting New Treatment For Dementia
For more than 60 years, music therapy has been widely recognized as a beneficial practice that can improve the health and well-being of chronically ill patients. Today, music therapy is a well-respected profession that requires specialized study and training, which is why universities throughout the UK offer graduate and doctorate programs in music therapy, qualifying individuals to become registered Music Therapists. Medical and behavioral health providers, as well as social care and education services often employ professional Music Therapists to work with individuals or groups in their care.

As an evidence-based therapeutic intervention, music therapy has become known as an effective tool to support care-mapping treatments for dementia, a degenerative condition that occurs most often in older adults. Patients with dementia typically suffer from loss of memory, speech and articulation, as well as emotional balance. To improve the quality of life and well-being for patients with dementia, healthcare providers are combining music therapy and care-mapping treatments to enhance and increase target areas of functioning in patients.

 

 
Successful treatment of dementia will ultimately produce improved interactions, which is why integrating music therapy into care-mapping treatments can be very effective. A care-mapping approach first defines the therapeutic goal, which is based the individual patient’s needs. Once the goal is established, specific treatments are identified to address each area of need, and a plan for delivery of care and treatment is created. Treatments that have the greatest potential for achieving the desired outcomes are then delivered to the patient, which are evaluated to determine whether/how the patient makes progress toward achieving the therapeutic goal.
Music therapy has been shown to make a tremendous impact on speech, memory, and the emotional behavior of patients with dementia. Music provides a form of non-verbal communication that becomes an interpreter for the patient. Because patients with dementia often have difficulty being understood, expressing basic needs, and displaying emotions, they can easily become isolated, depressed, and incur greater health risks. Studies have shown that making music and listening to music provides ways to utilize and enhance cognitive skills, which can help patients with dementia to avoid losing them altogether.

 

Music therapy provides a communicative structure that encourages dialogue through song. Listening to music can also have strong effects on emotion and mood, which occurs when sound stimulates the brain and triggers past memories. For patients with mild dementia, music therapy can also improve physical activity, as repetitious beats inspire rhythmic movement that not only keeps the patient actively engaged in exercise, but also stimulates and strengthens short-term memory.
 The effects of music therapy can be seen and measured throughout care-mapping treatments when music therapists interact and engage patients with dementia in thinking, problem solving, and other communication activities. Music therapy provides a sense of identify and place to a patient with dementia, and through this, speech, memory, and emotional behavior can occur. For instance, songs that remind a patient of their cultural heritage or of past decades when they were younger may lead to the patient singing other songs they knew from that time. Here, a connection between therapist and patient is made, and an understanding of the patient’s identity is established. Find a therapist near you today.
Combining music therapy and care-mapping can lead to purposeful treatment for patients with dementia. Music therapy provides opportunities for patients to remember more about the past and present, increase their social interactions, remain active, and have a sense of control over their lives.
Lucy James is a freelance writer helping to represent MHA online. MHA are a UK based charity providing elderly housing and specialist  dementia care