Mesothelioma patients often seek out different ways to help ease the symptoms of their disease or the side effects of treatment. One option that offers a multitude of benefits is music therapy.

What is Music Therapy?

“Music can be a powerful adjunct to the healing process. And music is one of the safest medicines you’ll ever find. You can dose yourself as you please with no worries about toxic side effects.” – Allan Hamilton

The use of music as a healing mechanism has been referenced in the writings of Plato and Aristotle. However, the concept of modern music therapy did not come to fruition until the Second World War when the demand for musicians in VA hospitals increased.

American Music Therapy Association logo.The validity of music therapy was further solidified in 1944 when Michigan State University introduced an undergraduate program in the field. In 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) was founded.

Today NAMT is known as the American Music Therapy Association. The AMTA represents over 5,000 music therapists and related organizations worldwide.

Music therapy is defined as “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,” states the American Music Therapy Association website.

What Happens During a Therapy Session?

“(Music therapy) can make the difference between withdrawal and awareness, between isolation and interaction, between chronic pain and comfort — between demoralization and dignity.” – Barbara Crowe

One of the best things about music therapy is that it is personalized for each participant. The music therapist will perform an initial evaluation of the patient before treatment begins.

An evaluation considers a patient’s

  • General mood
  • Favorite genre of music
  • Musical ability

A specialist then crafts a treatment based on the patient’s individual needs, wants, and abilities.The goal is to maximize the impact of their therapy.

Some activities a patient might take part in are:

  • Composing music
  • Instrumental improvisation
  • Writing lyrics
  • Singing
  • Dancing or moving to the music
  • Listening to music

For instance, a mesothelioma patient participating in music therapy does not have to be a musician to benefit from it. They don’t even have to know how to play an instrument.

What Are the Benefits of Music Therapy?

Hand of someone playing strings on a guitar.
Various studies have been done to understand the effects music therapy can have on patients. Remarkably, they’ve concluded that many individuals can benefit from it, especially, cancer patients.

Some of the benefits music therapy provides are:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased depression
  • Improved motivation to engage in treatment
  • Decreased pain
  • Increased relaxation
Watch the video below to see the impact music therapy can have on cancer patients.

If you are interested in trying music therapy, make sure to talk to your doctor. Some hospitals offer these services free of charge.

Have you already tried music therapy?
We would love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. Definition and Quotes about Music Therapy. American Music Therapy Association. Retrieved from: https://www.musictherapy.org/about/quotes/. Accessed: 11/16/2017.
  2. History of Music Therapy. American Music Therapy Association. Retrieved from: https://www.musictherapy.org/about/history/. Accessed: 11/16/2017.
  3. Celebrating 60 Years of Music Therapy History. American Music Therapy Association. Retrieved from: https://www.musictherapy.org/about/music_therapy_historical_review/. Accessed: 11/16/2017.
  4. Music therapy comforts cancer patients. UT Southwestern Medical Center. Retrieved from: http://www.utswmedicine.org/stories/articles/year-2015/music-therapy-cancer.html. Accessed: 11/16/2017.
  5. The Effects of Music Therapy on Anxiety and Depression of Cancer Patients. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5072238/#ref5. Accessed: 11/16/2017.
  6. About Music Therapy. Jeffrey Frank Wacks. Retrieved from: https://www.jfwmemorialfund.com/about-music-therapy. Accessed: 11/16/2017.
  7. Music therapy in supportive cancer care. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3863265/. Accessed: 11/16/2017.

About the Writer, Robert Lethbridge

Robert Lethbridge is member of the community outreach team at Mesothelioma Guide. His goal is to improve the lives of those affected by mesothelioma by increasing awareness.