Music lengthen and give up the tension they

Music
therapy applications cover a wide range of possibilities. In the case of this
research paper I decided to include the applications that I believe are most
significant and appropriate for incorporating when aiding a person that is
having anxiety or depression issues. I will initially describe an example of an
intervention and a script that would be suitable to use on a guided relaxation
session. Consequently I will summarize scientific research in several major
areas of music therapy.  

Musical experiences are often reported to influence people’s
emotions consciously and unconsciously. In many instances music may be used to
change, create, maintain or enhance their emotions and moods on a daily basis
for their personal benefit. This is known as affect regulation. A common
intervention in music therapy is guided relaxation. This practice is conducted
by a music therapist though playing music that matches a pre-written relaxation
script. The therapist may say lines such as “Inhale, bring your
shoulders up toward your ears. Raise them up high…. allow the muscles down
the sides of your neck and the top of your shoulders to lengthen and give up
the tension they were holding…” At the same time the music therapist performs
music that is suitable and matches the physical tension that is being released
with musical tension that resolves and is therefore released simultaneously. Although
this practice continues to gain credibility of its effectiveness existing research has yet to answer questions of how
music regulates affect, especially beyond the expressive properties of music.
The research published in “Music for Affect Regulation” by Laansma M.M. aims to
investigate how music functions to regulate affect, which affects it regulates,
and whether music listening can be considered a successful affect regulation
device. The study that consisted in interviews were segmented in single and
three week studies. The main findings were that music helps through broader
affect regulation strategies like distraction, introspection, and active
coping; music can for example distract someone from the affect or situation, or
help the person think about the affect or situation in a rational way.1 I have personally
experienced this during times that I’ve undergone a medical procedure such as
when I had a wisdom tooth extraction. I asked my doctor if I could play my
favorite worship music in the background on my phone during the procedure.
Through this experience I realized that having the music there made the
procedure a lot more bearable. Music is capable of playing a major role in
promoting happiness as well as relaxation. Music can function as a successful
regulation device with a range of underlying mechanisms helping through different
strategies. The insight gained into which strategies and underlying mechanisms
are involved when music is used for affect regulation might be used for the
benefit of people’s emotional well-being.

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In a similar manner that music can be used to aid a person in
distress endure or change single experience research conducted by Grocke, D. in
“The Effects of Group Music Therapy on Quality of Life” provides evidence of
the long lasting positive effects of music therapy. Studies were conducted to measure and determine how music therapy can
influence a person’s quality of life. Additionally, scales that gage the levels
of social anxiety for persons with disabilities were implemented to help determine
before and after music therapy outcomes. Various common music therapy
interventions such as: singing, improvisation, song writing, and recording
original songs were implemented during a ten week period with one hour weekly
sessions. The scales used to measure the outcomes are the Quality of Life
scale, the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale, and the Brief Symptom Inventory.
The qualitative data that was gathered reflected improvement on various
categories of QoL scale. Through an interview process and by analyzing the
themes of the original songs written with the clients it was determined that
there was not a significant impact on the BSI scale which indicates that any
improvements was not subject to symptomatic changes. The music therapist concentrated
on recurring themes during the sessions. One of them is how music therapy gives
joy and brings pleasure to those practicing it and receiving it. Another theme
covered the benefits of working as a team. Consequently the therapist built pride
with the clients on their creativity and compositions. Interestingly the most
common topics of the songs were related to world peace, the hardships of having
a mental illness, personal faith is a source of support, living in the past is hurtful,
and having a sense of belonging to a group is enjoyable.2
Without a doubt all of the topics of concern by the clients are topics that are
commonly expressed in music. The difference is that generally a person has to
have some musical knowledge or ability in order to be able to use music as a
medium. Music therapy closes this gap and gives everyone the possibility to
express their frustrations or their happiness since the music therapist has the
knowledge of the music and he/she is able to guide the client in creating a
musical expression. I have heard of instances where a music therapist was able
to help a client write a song about their fight with cancer. In another
instance a music therapist helped a teenager write a song about difficult
situations in her life. The result was that this practice helped each person
cope with their situation by helping them articulate the events and in this
manner enabled them to gain a different perspective.

Along the lines of Songwriting,
which is a therapeutic intervention that has received increasing attention in
the field of music therapy over the past decade, much of the publications on
its effectiveness focus on clinical outcomes rather than methods of practice.
The paper “Therapeutic Songwriting in Music Therapy” by Baker F. aims to
describe the most frequently employed goal areas across a range of clinical
populations and compares its findings with other published literature. This
paper outlines the responses to a 21-question online survey that were obtained
from 477 professional music therapists practicing in 29 countries with the
focus on approaches to songwriting within their practice in a single clinical
population. Comparable exact tests were demonstrated significant correlations among
different clinical populations. Among the similarities between the practices
the goals and outcomes of songwriting in clinical practice aligned with the
frequency that this intervention was implemented. In a significantly greater of
the cases songwriting is frequently employed to treat developmental
disabilities and ASD practice. According to the surveys answered by music
therapist songwriting in the music therapy literature is being represented with
usage frequencies that are below actual implementation numbers. The survey
identified that the most frequently endorsed goal areas included experiencing
mastery, developing self-confidence, enhancing self-esteem; choice and decision
making, developing a sense of self, externalizing thoughts, fantasies, and
emotions, telling the client’s story; and gaining insight or clarifying
thoughts and feelings.3
Although writing music historically has been used to gain fame and recognition
we can observe that another major purpose of writing music has been to share a
story. Whether it is a personal story, a historical event or a fictional story
for cultural or entertainment purposes music has demonstrated over and over
again to be a reliable means to carry a message. Through music therapy we have
found that the benefits associated with individuals being able to convey their
message translate to the community as they aid people in becoming socially
competent and emotionally stable.

In
summary music therapy applications to depression, anxiety and social challenges
are demonstrating consistency, effectiveness and viability. Research studies
conducted consistently provide evidence supporting its effectiveness although
are still in process of demonstrating the outlying factors that make it so.
Guided relaxation is an effective intervention when aiding clients that deal
with anxiety and songwriting goals can help people increase their self-esteem
and convey their stories through music.

1. Laansma, M. M., &
Haffmans, P. J. (2016). “Music for Affect Regulation”:
music listening in group receptive music therapy in the treatment of depression. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy,25(Sup1),
40-40.

2. Grocke, D., Bloch, S., &
Castle, D. (2009). The Effect of Group Music Therapy on Quality of Life for
Participants Living with a Severe and Enduring Mental Illness. Journal of Music Therapy,46(2),
90-104.

3. Baker, F., Wigram, T.,
Stott, D., & Mcferran, K. (2008). Therapeutic Songwriting in Music Therapy. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy,17(2),
105-123.