Exploring Music Therapy as a Career

Musicians know that music can help the mind and soul. Songs can help you express how you are feeling at a particular moment. They can remind you of emotions or events from your past. People have been using music to feel better for centuries. Over the past few decades, there has been more research on the positive effects of music on health. This data has caused music to move to the bedside.

Different genres of music have been found to lower blood pressure, affect mood, and decrease stress levels. There is also evidence that music can help boost the brain activity of people living with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. One study showed that singing show tunes or listening to classic hits can increase memory recall. This research also revealed other valuable information about the effects of music on the brain.

For instance, researchers determined that musical appreciation is one of the last abilities to be lost by patients with cognitive disorders. Another notable discovery is that music has been shown to allow those with dementia to share emotions with their caregivers through activities like dancing. The effects of music on this patient population is only one small area that musical therapists can use their talents.

Musicians are often highly sensitive, empathic people. Your ability to feel what another human is experiencing is a gift. Combine this high level of empathy with the ability to play an instrument, sing, or write music, and you may be an excellent candidate for a career as a music therapist. Here is some essential information you need to know if you are considering becoming a music therapist.


What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is an evidence-based practice that uses music to reach a patient’s goals. It combines the use of traditional therapy practices with song, composition, and other music practices. Music therapy is provided by a qualified and credentialed music therapist who has completed an approved program. This type of treatment can be used to help patients experiencing cognitive, emotional, physical, or social problems. The therapist assesses the patient’s needs and creates an action plan that includes activities like dancing or listening to music, playing instruments, or singing songs.

Music therapists attend a bachelor’s degree program, receive clinical training, and then pass a board certification exam. They work with patients of all ages, backgrounds, and disabilities. These professionals may work in acute care settings such as a hospital or in the community. It’s essential to note that music therapy is not only about listening to music; as a trained therapist, you will use music to elicit a cathartic release in your patients.


Patients Who Benefit

Music helps patients in a variety of ways. Many nursing homes, assisted living facilities, or senior centers use music as a vital part of their curriculum. Music therapy for seniors can ease feelings of loneliness and address physical ailments. It has been shown to elicit fascinating results in those living with cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. For patients living with cognitive illnesses, hearing a song or playing an instrument can even decrease the progression or risk of the disease.

Seniors aren’t the only people who can benefit from music therapy. Many veterans experience mental health problems like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may need cognitive therapy to ease the effects of the condition. During traditional psychotherapy, treatments like music therapy can be provided to veterans to minimize the impact of PTSD.

Another group of people who can benefit from music therapy is those struggling with addiction issues. Addiction recovery is challenging. Music can be used to improve mental health or as a creative outlet to keep patients working towards overall recovery progress.


Is Music Therapy Right for Me?

Most musicians have a unique ability to connect with their emotions. People with this ability are often characterized as being sensitive. This classification usually means that you have increased emotional and sensory awareness. Other common characteristics of musicians include having an active imagination. Along with music, you may enjoy art and nature. All of these qualities can make you an excellent candidate for a career in music therapy.

Sensitive individuals thrive in specific careers. As a music therapist, you will have creative freedom when working with patients. You can use your intuition to create music with patients when traditional therapy isn’t enough. Your ability to connect with others will provide you with an excellent bedside manner and give you insight into your patients that others may not have.


Moving Towards Your Future

If you’re looking for a new career move, music therapy may be a good fit. Using music to improve mental health and ease the discomforts of physical ailments is a unique job opportunity. Explore programs at various institutions to find the one that fits you best, then get ready for an exciting new career.


Indiana Lee is a writer and musician from the pacific northwest who has a particular interest in covering the arts, social justice, and health. You can follow her work on Contently, or email her at indianaleewrites@gmail.com.

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