It’s always entertaining when I talk about my job with people who have never heard of music therapy. After I give my well-rehearsed spiel about the basics of what I do, most grasp the benefit of music therapy for children with exceptionalities. However, when I start talking about music therapy for adults, without fail, I get blank stares and glazed looks. Music therapy…for adults? Uhhh, What?
Music therapy is a powerful, non-threatening medium that yields the potential to achieve unique outcomes. Here are a few ways music therapy can be utilized within adult populations.
Adults with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities
The engaging nature and accessibility across a wide range of cognitive levels make music a highly effective tool to increase social, communication, motor/sensory, emotional and vocational function for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Intellectual Disabilities (ID). Music therapy interventions can equip adults with ASD & ID with tools to improve interpersonal skills, personal responsibility, social engagement and community access. It can assist in acquiring new vocational skills and enhance current motor & communication function to maximize potential and increase overall quality of life.
Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Music, particularly rhythmic playing and singing, does not mandate cognitive functioning for success. Because of this accessibility, an individual living with Alzheimer’s often maintains the ability to engage in music late into the disease process. Music is personal. When we hear a familiar song it has the power to take us back to a particular time and place. For those who struggle to recall past events and memories, music can be the vehicle that allows for connections to be made. In these settings, a certified music therapist uses music to stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, shift mood, manage stress induced agitation, and coordinator motor movement.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) & Stroke
Music is a process that engages the whole brain. When we actively participate in music it’s as if fireworks are going off in our brain. Multiple areas are activated and differing information is processed simultaneously in intricate and interrelated sequences. It’s these properties of music that allow for it to be an ideal treatment modality for those effected by a TBI or stroke. A board-certified music therapist uses music to retrain the brain to re-learn important life skills lost due to injury. Music therapy can help these adults improve their muscle control, speech and cognition.
Trauma, Depression & Substance Abuse
Music therapy can be utilized in a variety of mental health settings. Current research indicates that it can effectively reduce muscle tension and anxiety, promote relaxation, verbalization, interpersonal relationships and group cohesion. Music therapy can assist in developing healthy coping strategies to manage individual life stressors and provide a vehicle for individuals to experience emotions without the need for substance use.
To learn more about adult programming offered through the George Center, check out the following organizations throughout the greater metro Atlanta area that currently receive GCMT services: