Music therapy is a powerful tool among not only psychological and mental health professionals but also among physical medicine professionals. As a profession and therapy which traces its roots to the 1950s, many health professionals, today, are considering music therapy as a key alternative in treating illness and disease.
As both an art and a science, music therapy lends its success in the ability to stimulate both the right and left brain, simultaneously. In studying physiology, we have learned the body, both physically as well as mentally, responds to the effects of music therapy when applied correctly, especially in children who are disabled.
A child suffering from disability, ranging from mental retardation, to physical disability to even children suffering from ADHD, music therapy may hold the key to improved health. With music and sound, we can create an atmosphere in which children are captured by words, sound, or both. In the case of children with ADHD, engaging the child in the playing of instruments will often encourage concentration with an immediate reward for concentration and compliance; key factors in cognitive behavioral training of the ADHD child.
For children who show signs of depression, using music therapy to improve mood has been quite successful. In fact, children who are exposed to energetic, uplifting songs, especially those that use hand movements and gestures, find a greater sense of satisfaction through the stimulation of both right and left brain, plus the added dynamic of physical movement. All too often, depressed children are immobile and unstimulated. Therefore, providing a safe and fun environment in which to foster singing and dancing may work to improve the mental health of many children.
For visually impaired children, music therapy works to not only strengthen the sense of sound and hearing but also works to promote artistic expression in a child who otherwise misses out on artistic expression through visual display. Using music as a colorful palate, will provide the visually impaired child with a way in which to express themselves and share the world as they see it without vision. Specifically, children with visual impairment, often, will attach specific sounds to specific objects they can not see. High tones may represent the sound of birds and insects while low pitched tones may represent vehicles and trucks passing the distance.
As with any form of therapy, the key to optimal health outcomes lies in the ability of the parent to see the benefit of the therapy to the child and then applying those same applications and benefits outside of the therapy center and into the child’s daily life. Because music can be a combination of spoken and unspoken art, children with disabilities often respond to music therapy in a positive manner and experience a renewed self-image.