Music therapy is a clinical intervention where the therapist helps the individual to promote his or her health through musical experiences.
Music creates well-being and is therapeutic in the sense that tunes the essential efforts that the brain has to make to regulate the body internally and in the relationship with the world. Because it is not verbal, music therapy stimulates the symbolic representation, evokes emotional memories and physiological responses. Sensory musical stimulation creates synesthesia with other senses.
The main focus of music therapy is the musical creation process where each person learns about him or herself. The final product, the music, though essential and vital to the therapeutic result, is not the main reason of the intervention and the music therapist is only a facilitator of musical exploration. The therapeutic objectives are varied, among which we emphasize communication, perception and the relationship, that generate effects to the physical, emotional, cognitive and social levels.
The patient does not have to be a musician, not even know music, to be able to take advantage of the music therapy intervention, that uses a combination of various activities: listening to music, improvisation, active music making (patient and therapist together), imagination and physical exercise (movement and dance).
In Portugal the entity responsible for the accreditation of music therapists is Associação Portuguesa de Musicoterapia.
Who can benefit from it
This therapy is for everyone (children, youngsters, adults and elderly). The objective of this therapy is not learning to play an instrument but to use music to achieve the therapeutic objectives set for each person.
There is no need to know how to play an instrument or have any musical training to benefit from music therapy.
The music therapist
The music therapist is someone with specific training, clinical practice and supervision in music therapy. His or her primary objective is to facilitate the development and functioning of the person, participating and aiding the living and experience through the relationship between him or her and his or her client and the musical activities developed in the music therapy sessions.
The music therapist evaluates the physical and emotional well-being of the individual, his or her social functioning, and communicational, cognitive and physical skills through his or her musical responses. Music therapy uses several methods and techniques like improvisation, listening, song-writing, discussion of lyrics, music and imagination, musical practice and learning through music.