There are different kinds of online therapy sessions depending on a patient’s needs. However, music therapy is catching everyone’s attention because of its light and practical approach.
“Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program,” said the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
How Does Music Therapy Work Online?
There are different approaches to online music therapy. Listed below are some of the activities that the therapist and client do to address music and non-musical goals:
Writing A Song Together
Even if the therapist and the patient are interacting online, it is still possible to write a song together. Abigail Saneholtz, Psy.D explains, “Music has such a large impact on our lives! It crosses cultures, age groups and has an effect on everyone. It can make you smile, dance, sing, cry, instantly recall memories like they were yesterday and process emotion.” What most therapists do is to ask the client first what he or she is feeling on that instant. Once they have established this emotion, the therapist then makes him, or her tell a story—a random one. This story will be the foundation for the creation of the song.
What usually happens with writing a song is that the therapists sometimes provide a tempo that they can use. From here, the client inserts lyrics which, as mentioned, will be based on the story presented at the start of the session.
Using Music Playlists
In the online therapy session, the therapist discusses the importance of creating a music playlist that will spark happy memories instead of those songs which hark back to the painful past. “It seems as though – I wouldn’t say music has special properties – but, it has the ability to distract or engage in ways that other stimuli don’t.” Neuropsychologist Daniel Levitin, PhD explains.
Courtney Armstrong, a well-known music therapist, shared how she was able to get one of her clients through. One time, her client mentioned that he dreads hearing the song “I Dreamed A Dream” from the musical Les Miserables since it reminds him of his dead son. When Courtney asked for his permission to play it in one of their online therapy sessions, he panicked and declined the offer.
From here, Courtney asked his client to create a playlist which will capture the loving relationship he had with his son. He liked the idea, so he collected a few songs from his son’s favorite bands and artists. He then played this playlist in their online therapy while explaining what comes to his mind while playing the song.
Playing Instruments Together
Before the start of the session, the therapist usually asks the person to bring an instrument or sit beside it (if it’s a piano). Afterward, he or she then asks the patient to give an overview of his or her feelings throughout the day or the week. Once the therapist has analyzed what kind of emotions have been going through the client, he or she will then create a music strategy which will cater to the problems.
This music strategy involves choosing a piece that can be of help to the emotional stability of the patient. After selecting a song, the therapist then sends the musical score online so that the client can have a copy and be able to play their instruments together. It is a way for them to relax and reflect on their feelings. “To quell overwhelm, engage in an activity that you enjoy, such as listening to music.” Marla W. Deibler, PsyD suggests.
Listening Actively To Music
Listening to music is different from listening actively to music. Listening to music only refers to playing songs in the background while not paying attention to it. On the other hand, listening actively to music involves listening to the lyrics, melody, and harmonies purposely.
Music therapists let their patients listen to a song two times while in session and ask them to share how they connect to the melody and the lyrics itself. It is a way for them to be comfortable with speaking up without having to ask them direct questions.
This approach is also helpful to patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Hearing songs that are familiar to them can trigger their memory.
Benefits Of Music Therapy
Music therapy is a good strategy for online counseling. The good thing with this is that almost anyone can relate to this kind of approach and hence reap its benefits. Here’s what you’ll get once you engage in music therapy.
- Music helps someone process their emotions. It can make people sad, happy, relaxed, energized, and excited. It is also a way to dig deeper into someone’s feelings.
- Science has also proven that music helps release mood-enhancing chemicals, such as endorphins and dopamine, into our body. Dopamine is a trigger to pleasure receptors while endorphins are hormones which provide a person a happy state of mind.
- Music also helps individuals to heal faster physically. It is known to normalize blood pressure and heart rate.
Music therapy may be new to your ears. However, with the rise of a multi-channel approach to treating and healing, it makes sense that creative modalities come into the picture and start gaining traction.