I have been planning to go to a dentist for a few days now but each time I think of sitting in the chair, it fills my soul with horror. I remember the Ogden Nash quote that went something like ‘Because some tortures are physical and some are mental, but the one that is both is dental.’
But when I actually sat in the chair a few days ago, I could hear Chopin playing in the background and though it did not reduce the pain but relieved me of my phobia.
‘From now on, what I would remember about the dentist’s chair is Chopin playing in the background.’ I told my dentist and he smiled. He told me that music therapy (I had no clue it was a specialized field) had worked magic for his patients as it calmed the anxiety and provided a welcome diversion when they were sitting in the chair.
What is Music Therapy?
According to Wikipedia, Music therapy is an allied health profession and one of the expressive therapies, consisting of a process in which a music therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients improve their physical and mental health. Recently, music therapy has been increasingly used to promote healing among patients.
How does Music promote healing?
A research conducted by Harvard Medical School suggests that music promotes healing by enhancing the brain’s capability to make connections to new nerve cells. However, there is also some other research that suggests that music works it’s magic through the rhythms. Our brain responds to the various rhythms, tones and tunes that brings about the healing effect.
Music Therapy: The evidence
The documentary Alive Inside shows Dan Cohen, a social worker, make playlists for patients suffering with Dementia and listening to the songs that they once enjoyed reactivated regions of their brain related to memory.
However, music therapy has also been used in the treatment of many other conditions like autism, mood disorders, heart diseases, schizophrenia, amnesia, Tourette’s syndrome, depression, stroke and Post traumatic stress disorder amongst others.
Davis, Gfeller, Thaut (2008). An Introduction to Music Therapy Theory and Practice-Third Edition: The Music Therapy Treatment Process. Silver Spring, Maryland.
Wheeler, B.L.; et al. (2003). “Effects of Number of Sessions and Group or Individual Music Therapy on the Mood and Behavior of People Who Have Had Strokes or Traumatic Brain Injuries”. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy.