Apollo is the ancient Greek god of music and of medicine. Aesculapius was said to cure diseases of the mind by using song and music, and music therapy was used in Egyptian temples. But can be this actually be therapeutic in modern era?
Music therapy is now being used in medical hospitals, cancer centers, schools, alcohol and drug recovery programs, psychiatric hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. It is thought of as a systematic intervention that consist of a process in which music (active or receptive) forms relationship viz. physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual to help clients improve their health.
Recently, Carr and colleagues published a systematic review in PLoS ONE relating to music therapy and it’s use in acute adult psychiatric in-patient units. Hypothesis aimed to find answers for following questions:
- What are the clinical aims and considerations for music therapy with acute adult psychiatric patients in acute hospital settings?
- How is music therapy provided in these settings in terms of frequency, duration and methods used?
- What are the findings from outcome studies conducted in these settings?
After thoroughly searching web databases based on existing guidance and standard reviews, relevant journals, library, catalogues and conference proceedings were then hand-searched. Papers were included if they described music therapy as the main component of treatment with adult in-patients (ages 18+) admitted for treatment of acute symptoms in psychiatric hospitals.
98 papers were included: 57 covered acute work specifically, whilst 41 included acute work as part of a wider discussion of practice in mental health. The majority of papers came from the USA and UK and were clinical theoretical discussions or case studies (N=63), whilst research and service evaluations comprised 35 of the included papers. Robustness of the synthesis (selection of articles based on several criteria) product was assessed through quality assessment, Doctoral supervision with a music therapist and psychiatrist and presentations to a mental health research group consisting of Psychologists and Psychiatrists within the authors’ institution and to music therapists.
Reductions in positive and negative symptoms and increased interpersonal functioning were significantly more favorable in patients receiving music therapy compared to controls, although the sizes of the effects were small.
- Outcomes for depression were mixed and not significant.
- Music therapy consistently gained the most positive appraisals, and was significantly more pleasurable than other groups.
- The benefit is broader than symptomatic change.
- Patients rated music therapy positively, particularly in terms of enjoyment, safety, relaxation and improvement in mood
“This review has identified clinical practice spanning 40 years across a range of countries in acute in-patient settings. No single clearly defined model exists for music therapy with adults in acute psychiatric in-patient settings, and described models are not conclusive. Despite this large body of work, very little research exists to qualify the evidence base for practice in acute settings”
Whether success or failure, definitely Music Therapy gained lots of attention from healthcare professionals, which led to opening several music therapy schools even in India. However, Future research needs to disentangle the processes of music therapy for this population in order to better define indications and the types of outcomes that may be achieved.
Most Notable Music Training Institutes in India are:
Carr C, Odell-Miller H, & Priebe S (2013). A systematic review of music therapy practice and outcomes with acute adult psychiatric in-patients. PloS one, 8 (8) PMID: 23936399