Music therapy, what’s that?

(Back to Blog after summer break – none for months, then two posts in a day!)

As I begin second year of university training in music therapy, I often find myself explaining the subject to people I meet – it still seems to be a little-known field… here are snippets from conversations:

it’s like using music as a tool to help people

it helps folk connect in different ways

music can communicate more than talking

I suppose it’s easier to understand the music part of the equation, compared with the therapy part.  The theory behind the practice and the clinical approach have been big things to learn for me – and it’s great to have music as a vehicle for the work.

Reading more around the subject, and re-reading books I’d previously read, I have more questions and deeper thoughts about how music impacts people.

So, this blog will see more posts on #MusicTherapy and related thoughts – meantime here’s a portrait of Amy I spotted in Amsterdam this summer…

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Back to Black, Street Portrait of Amy, Amsterdam
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Conclusions changed for music therapy – Cochrane Review

Having heard about Cochrane reviews, and knowing how respected they are, I was intrigued to see a Cochrane Review tagged “Conclusions changed” and entitled Music interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients.

With the growing body of research, it appears music therapy is now recommended for inclusion in cancer care, compared to a few years ago.

From 2016:

We conclude that music interventions may have beneficial effects on anxiety, pain, fatigue and quality of life (QoL) in people with cancer. Furthermore, music may have a small positive effect on heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Reduction of anxiety, fatigue and pain are important outcomes for people with cancer, as they have an impact on health and overall QoL. Therefore, we recommend considering the inclusion of music therapy and music medicine interventions in psychosocial cancer care.

From 2011:

This systematic review indicates that music interventions may have beneficial effects on anxiety, pain, mood, and QoL in people with cancer. Furthermore, music may have a small effect on heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. Most trials were at high risk of bias and, therefore, these results need to be interpreted with caution.

Interestingly, the review also compared “music therapy” with “music medicine”, their term for listening to pre-recorded music, offered by medical staff:

A comparison between music therapy and music medicine interventions suggests a moderate effect of music therapy interventions for patients’ quality of life (QoL), but we found no evidence of an effect for music medicine interventions.

So, plenty to think about here, and plenty to read further online