Music therapy is the systematic application of music in the treatment of thephysiological and psychosocial aspects of an illness or disability. It focuseson the acquisition of nonmusical skills and behaviors, as determined by a board certified music therapist through systematic assessment and treatment planning. Music therapy in the United States of America began in the late 18th century. However, using music as a healing medium dates back to ancient times. This is evident in biblical scriptures and historical writings of ancient civilizations such as Egypt, China, India, Greece and Rome. Today, the power of music remains the same but music is used much differently than it was in ancient times. The profession of music therapy in the United States began to develop during W.W.I when music was used in Veterans Administration Hospitals as an intervention to address traumatic war injuries. Veterans actively and passively engaged in music activities that focused on relieving pain perception. Numerous doctors and nurses witnessed the effect music had on veterans' psychological, physiological, cognitive, and emotional state. Since then, colleges and universities developed programs to train musicians how to use music for therapeutic purposes. In 1950 a professional organization was formed by a collaboration of music therapists that worked with veterans,mentally retarded, hearing/visually impaired, and psychiatric populations This was the birth of the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT). In 1998, NAMT joined forces with another music therapy organization to become what is now known as the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).The American Music Therapy Association has specific curriculum requirements including courses in research analysis, physiology, acoustics, psychology and music and therapy; currently there are 68 undergraduate and 25 graduate programs approved by the association across the nation. Upon completing the academic program at either the bachelor s or master s level, a 6-month internship is required at an AMTA approved clinical training site. Graduates must subsequently pass a comprehensive examination administered by an independent certifying body, the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), to earn the MT-BC credential which needs to be maintained by taking continuing education courses in Music Therapy and in related fields. Currently there are about 6000 certified music therapists in North America. Where do Music Therapists Work? Music therapists work with over 60 different populations in nearly 60 different settings, and the role of music therapy is still expanding. Common settings for music therapy include psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, medical hospitals, outpatient clinics, day care treatment centers, residences for developmentally disabled persons,community mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools, and private practices. Hospitalization can result not only in physical stress from invasive treatments and therapies,but emotional stress as well from unexpected news, unfamiliar environments, inability to conduct normal activities and lack of control. Music therapy in the medical setting provides patients a familiar and positive way to cope with their hospitalization.Through successful music experiences, patients can regain a sense of control, independence, and confidence. Music can be a medium of communication and a strategy for refocusing attention during painful procedures or long treatments such as hemodialysis, and a source of emotional support. Music is clinically recognized to influence biological responses such as heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, cardiac output, muscle tone, pupillary responses, skin responses, the immune system, and endorphin production. Music can entrain the body to calm or to accelerate depending on what type of music is used. Sedative music can lower anxiety, pain, tension and stress levels resulting in less use of anesthetics and pain medication, a shorter recovery period, higher patient compliance and higher patient and family satisfaction. Stimulative music can be a source of motivation both physically and psychologically and becomes a positive reinforcement during physical therapy and rehabilitation. In summary, Music therapy can contribute significantly to medical care providing psychological and physical comfort to patients with various needs.
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