Music therapy is an innovative approach to treating a number of conditions while promoting health in the process. The process is relatively simple and the outcome is surprisingly effective in many cases. Using the therapy has its benefits in the realms of relaxation and stress management, but many are finding this approach to be effective in treating pervasive developmental disorders, including autism.
Those familiar with alternative and complementary medicine are very familiar with the deep connection between stress and physical health. Research has uncovered music as a valuable tool for improving your health by healing your psyche. Using music for stress management is a convenient approach that requires very little effort. Simply taking time to listen and relax is enough to produce results in many cases.
With stress at bay, the body is better able to focus on healing. Music therapy is also helpful in treating other conditions including but not limited to:
• Pain management
• Attention deficit disorder
• Pervasive developmental disorders
While the approach is not intended to cure a person of a particular condition, it can help patients to improve their state of mind to promote healing.
Music therapy for autism works on a number of different levels. The first is involves sensory processing problems that are common with pervasive developmental disorders. Many people on the autism spectrum have trouble processing sensory input, making some experiences downright painful. Music therapy can help by building an autistic person’s tolerance for a range of sounds.
The therapy is also effective in encouraging communication. Songs can be very motivating and they offer many benefits for people on the spectrum including:
It seems as if the music has an effect on the brain as well.
Music can create a pattern of brainwaves that follow the beat of the song. The changes in brainwaves can put someone into the alpha, or meditative, state. Changes that result from upbeat music can include sharper mental processes and mental alertness.
The power of positive thinking is all the rage in the realm of alternative medicine, and music appears to have a profound effect on mood and thoughts. People who engage in music therapy can experience improved mental states that last long after the songs are over.
The physical realm is also affected by music. People can benefit through the therapeutic approach’s effect on the autonomic nervous system. This affects:
• Heart rate
• Blood pressure
The physical responses the body has can help promote health. Reducing stress is a critical factor but the effects on the autonomic nervous system are impressive. People can enjoy the following benefits in addition to others not listed:
• Improved immune system
• Reduction of muscle tension
• Reduced risk of stroke
• Reduced risk of heart disease
Music therapy does not serve as a cure for any condition, but it has such a profound effect on the brain and the body that it is a very important component in promoting overall health. The American Music Therapy Association has more information about this form of complementary medicine.