WHAT IS MUSIC THERAPY?
Music therapy is an evidence-based method of music interventions that are used to reach individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship.
It can address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs
The qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music.
As we all must have experienced is music directly connected to our heartbeat and our respiration it can for example influence our Pulse and can activate us or slow us down. There have been many researches about the effect of music, for example can it have a positive effect on physiological parameters, feeding and development of premature infants or it can also have positive effect on cancer patients by reducing anxiety but also on the feeling of isolation and their mood. The last two factors are of course mainly connected to the big influence music has on our emotions.
Another important factor that should be mentioned is the connection between music and communication. The structure of music can be compared with that of spoken and written language. But not only that, it is also felt and expressed as emotion.
It can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. That´s why music therapy is also often used for patients with mood disorders or trauma. One factor that especially appears in active music making and improvisation are the social skills that can be practiced. Therefore there have been developed many methods for patients with mental problems.
Because of the very broad field of possibilities in music therapy I have just summed up a few examples, of course there is many more.
For those who are curious about how music can influence our brains here is a short clip:
Video by TedEd
MUSIC THERAPY WITH TRAUMATIZED REFUGEES
In the last twenty years there has been a lot of development in the field of treating trauma with music therapy. As a non-verbal medium it gives various possibilities of expressing feelings through a less confronting way. Often music therapy is offered as a combination with communication therapy. In the Netherlands for example there is also the possibility of choosing between different therapies like art- or dance therapy. By that one has the option to find a very individual way of processing a trauma.
Before, while and after fleeing people have often faced terrible experiences where human rights have been violated several times. Such as physical, and and mental abuse, oppression, torture.
Often they have seen friends or family being killed.
Having undergone such experiences can be followed by
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
HOW CAN MUSIC HELP?
A trauma can have intense effects on the persons body, mind and spirit and can be followed by "overwhelm and intense re-experiencing of the trauma, and a state of emotional constriction and numbing which can include avoidance of people, places and events that might trigger traumatic associations and bring on intolerable anxiety or panic"
In musictherapy there are three ways of treating those posttraumatic complaints:
get into contact with and give space to actual emotions that are not dominated by trauma,
start the process of making existential choices, and
regain control over their own lives.
The music therapist´s task is to help clients reduce the emotional stress and anxiety level, channeling or redirecting emotions via healthy outlets, and developing relaxation or diversion. (Orth 2005)
WHY MUSIC THERAPY ?
For a large proportion of the refugee population Western models of health care have proved inaccessible mostly through factors such as the language barrier but also distrust of healthcare professionals. Sometimes they have a totally different view of sicknesses and treatments.
For example almost 80% complain about physical discomforts because sometimes that is the only accepted way of expressing personal or psychological problems (Hondius & Van Willingen, 1992)
Research has also shown that the so called “alternative methods” of healing are often more close to treatments that are being used in the country of origin. Like that the own interpretation can be included and also the patient can actively take part in their own healing process. This can be a way of reducing cultural barriers.