Music therapy is a specialized form of therapy that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. It has been used for centuries, with the earliest reference dating back to ancient Greek philosopher Plato who recognized the healing properties of music. Today, music therapy is an evidence-based practice that has been shown to have a range of benefits for people of all ages in a variety of settings, from children to older adults. It can be beneficial for people with special needs, those in physical pain, and individuals who prefer to express themselves through music rather than verbal communication.
In this blog post, we delve into the benefits of music therapy, and show how this evidence-based therapy can improve physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being. We also introduce our music therapist at Ekko Wellness, Yasmin Kawar, who offers a person-centered, anti-oppressive, and trauma-informed approach to help clients explore their feelings and experiences using music therapy techniques.
What Musical Instruments are Used for Therapy?
At Ekko Wellness, we use a wide range of musical instruments to help our music therapy students express feelings and thoughts in a safe and creative environment. For example, we use string instruments to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Instruments such as the guitar, violin, and cello can produce a wide range of sounds and tones that can have a calming effect. The gentle strumming of a guitar, the soothing sound of a violin, or the deep resonant notes of a cello can all help to create a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.
The therapeutic use of instruments can help individuals to reduce anxiety, improve mood, and promote overall well-being. By incorporating these instruments into sessions, individuals can experience the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social benefits of music therapy in a unique and personalized way, whether they’re listening or producing the music themselves.
Music Therapy Clients and Music Students
Music therapy clients and music students differ in their objectives and approach. While music students are interested in learning to play an instrument and improve their musical skills, music therapy clients use music to achieve therapeutic goals.
Music therapy involves a trained music therapist who uses music to address specific physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of the client. The therapist may use music improvisation, singing, song writing, or listening to music as a means of expression and healing. Music students, on the other hand, may use music as a form of relaxation or emotional expression but without a specific therapeutic goal in mind. It’s important to differentiate between the two because of insurance coverage differences.
How Can You Use Music to Express Your Thoughts and Feelings?
Music has the ability to express emotions and thoughts in a way that words alone may not be able to. When individuals participate in music therapy sessions, they are provided with a safe and supportive environment with certified music therapists that can assist with instrument selection and song writing.
Music therapy is a powerful tool that can provide numerous benefits for individuals of all ages. The benefits can be physical, emotional cognitive, and social:
- Physical Benefits: Music therapy can enhance overall well-being. It can reduce muscle tension, improve coordination and balance, and even regulate heart rate and breathing. For example, music therapy is being explored as a potential solution to help individuals recovering from a stroke to improve their physical functioning and regain their independence (Source)
- Emotional Benefits: Music has the ability to evoke strong emotional responses, and music therapy uses this to provide emotional support and help individuals better express and manage their emotions. It can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and provide a sense of comfort and relaxation. For example, music therapy can be used to help individuals with depression to improve their mood (Source)
- Cognitive Benefits: Music therapy can also be used to improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. It has been shown to be particularly effective for individuals with dementia or other cognitive impairments. (Source)
- Social Benefits: Music therapy can improve socialization and interpersonal skills, including communication and self-expression. It can also provide opportunities for individuals to connect with others in a supportive and creative environment. For example, it can be used to help individuals with autism spectrum disorder to improve their social skills and increase their ability to communicate with others (Source)
Music therapy provides a holistic approach to improving physical, emotional, cognitive, and social functioning, and can be a valuable addition to any treatment plan or wellness program.
Individual vs. Group Approaches to Music Therapy
Music therapy sessions can be conducted on an individual or group basis, depending on the needs and preferences of the client. Individual sessions allow for more personalized attention and can be tailored to the specific needs of the individual. Music group sessions, on the other hand, can provide opportunities for socialization and can foster a sense of community among participants.
- Individual Sessions: Individual sessions are ideal for clients who may have specific goals or needs that require more focused attention. For example, an individual who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury may benefit from individual music therapy sessions to help with physical rehabilitation and cognitive function.
- Group Sessions: Group sessions are ideal for clients who may benefit from socialization and peer support. For example, a group of individuals with Parkinson’s disease may participate in a group music therapy session to improve physical coordination and to connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges.
Both individual and group music therapy sessions can be effective in achieving therapeutic goals. The choice of approach depends on the needs and preferences of the client, as well as the goals of the therapy.
In addition to individual and group sessions, music therapy can also incorporate active or receptive techniques. Active techniques involve the client actively participating in creating or performing music, while receptive techniques involve listening to or responding to music in a more passive way. The therapist may use a combination of both approaches, depending on the needs of the client.
The choice of approach to music therapy depends on the needs and preferences of the client, as well as the goals of the therapy. The therapist will work with the client to determine the most effective approach to achieve the desired outcomes.
Meet Our Music Therapist, Yasmin Kawar
Yasmin is an experienced Certified Music Therapist and Registered Counselling Therapist – Candidate who specializes in providing group and individual therapy to individuals with a wide range of mental health concerns. Her experience includes working with individuals impacted by addiction, trauma, abuse, depression/anxiety, ADHD, criminal justice system challenges, and overall mental health concerns. She works collaboratively with her clients to support their personal goals, while considering the holistic and intersecting aspects at play in their lives.
Yasmin’s sessions may include talk therapy alone or a blend of talk therapy and music therapy techniques, depending on her clients’ preferences and the therapy process. She draws from elements of psychodynamic, experiential, and cognitive-behavioral therapies to provide an integrative approach. The use of music therapy techniques in her sessions may include music listening and discussion, lyric analysis, singing, improvising, music-assisted relaxation, and therapeutic song writing.
Yasmin’s approach is person-centered, anti-oppressive, and trauma-informed, which highlights the importance of trust, safety, and choice in therapy when exploring feelings, experiences, and challenges that may be present. She provides a compassionate presence to help deepen understanding of oneself and the world, integrate new insights, and connect with unique strengths and resources for personal growth. Yasmin aims to meet all clients where they are in their life journey, working together to creatively guide and mobilize chaos into positive empowered change.
Conclusion: Music Therapy at Ekko Music
Music therapy is a specialized form of therapy that has been used for centuries to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. It offers a range of benefits for people of all ages, from children to seniors, and can be tailored to meet individual needs and preferences. Whether you are recovering from an injury, managing a mental health concern, or simply looking for a way to improve your well-being, music therapy at Ekko may be a valuable intervention to consider.