In evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish

In a world full of prescription drugs everyone wants that miracle pill to solve all their problems. One of the biggest issues people have is dealing with stress and anxiety. What if there was another way? A way without having to take a Xanax and dealing with all the horrible side effects. Well, there is another way. Music has been shown to have the same effects on individuals as most prescription drugs. It has shown the most improvement in individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. We will discuss what music therapy is, what parts of the brain are effected, how music positively stimulates the brain, doctor’s hands on experiences, thus showing why it is such an amazing alternative to prescription medication. Music therapy is a 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. It is an established health profession in which music is used to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. How our brain functions after a traumatic event can be altered in many ways. Three of the most important changes happen to appear in the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate and the amygdala. The prefrontal cortex is also known as the thinking center. It is located at the top of our head near the front behind the forehead. The abilities it’s responsible for are rational thought, problem-solving, personality, planning, empathy, and awareness of ourselves and others. We know when this part of the brain is strong because we are able to think clearly be aware of ourselves and others, and make good decisions. The anterior cingulate, also called the emotion regulation center, is located near the prefrontal cortex, but it is deeper inside the brain. Since this part of the brain works closely with the thinking center, we are able to manage difficult thoughts and emotions without being totally overwhelmed when the brain is strong. This part of the brain also helps us manage our emotions so we don’t do things we regret. The amygdala is a tiny structure deep inside the brain. This is where fear comes from. This part of the brain is outside of our conscious awareness, or control. Its primary job is to receive all incoming information. This is everything you see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. It then answers one question. Is this a threat? If the answer is yes it produces fear in us. When it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder, one’s brain is not operating the way it should. The thinking center and emotion regulation center are under activated while the fear center is over activated. When this happens the individuals experience chronic stress, vigilance, fear, and irritation. They may also have a hard time feeling safe, calming down, or sleeping. Music can help ease the pain that post-traumatic stress disorder patients are dealing with. Why does it work? Music can trigger the brain to release chemicals to distract the mind and body from the pain. Music, as well as binaural beats and isochronic tones which augment the effects, reach the brain’s auditory cortex, which causes the communication between the cortex and the sections of the brain that govern emotion, memory, and body control. Not just any music can work though. Songs that have words, sung or spoken, can cause agitation when used for post-traumatic stress disorder patients. Music and sounds that have a low pitch are most effective, as well as music that is slow and has a steady beat. This is why binaural beats work best. Their base tone is around 200 Hz and they have a beat frequency from 7 Hz to 12.9 Hz. Although, each patient may react differently to different songs, these kinds of songs have been proven to work best. Many doctors have seen improvement in patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. One study done by The British Psychological Society saw an improvement in 95% of patients. The objective of the case study was that since not all patients with post-traumatic stress disorder see improvement with cognitive behavioral therapy, there must be another way for them to get relief. The doctor’s objectives were to assess whether group music therapy was feasible for patients who did not respond to cognitive behavioral therapy, and whether it has an effect on post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and depression. The study employed mixed methods comprising of an exploratory randomized controlled trial, qualitative content analysis of therapy, and patient interviews. The control group was between the ages of 18 and 65 years, had basic English, and were receiving no other psychotherapy. They all had received cognitive behavioral therapy previously and still retained significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder upon discharge. This study would continue for 10 weeks. During the 10 weeks, group music therapy was provided by music therapists one hour every week. The goals for this treatment were to foster safety and encourage use of the setting and instruments to communicate, increase self-agency and question assumptions of leadership in order to increase independence, autonomy, initiation of musical ideas, alleviate re-experiencing avoidance, hyper arousal, and associated depression. The secondary goals of this study were to offer opportunities for socialization an support, provide experiences of making music leading to potential psychological, physical and emotional benefits, utilize music to lower anxiety and enhance self-esteem, provide a space to think freely and promote relaxation, provide opportunities to speak within a group setting, provide the potential for creative play without dependence upon verbal instruction. This study wasn’t all rainbows and cotton candy. There was some reoccurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms when certain instruments were played. One patient didn’t like the drumming. It simply described as unpleasant. Another patient did not like the wind chimes. They claimed it made their eyes hurt. This supporting the fact that high pitched sounds are not good for rehabilitation. One patient described her experience as follows. “To be yourself again. You feel like you’re YOU and not just somebody else walking around as if you’re up there watching down on you…” (Catherin Carr’s patient (1), Page 189) “…When I’m in this room and I’m playing, I feel ME again…like I was before…before everything that happened. When I go out that door – out there – I feel as if I’m up there again in a cloud watching me.” (Catherin Carr’s patient (2), Page 189) What one can take from this information is that there are options out there. We don’t have to pop a pill and heavily medicate ourselves to the point where we become zombies. Music therapy is also something one can do on their own. It is not something where you have to see a licenses professional in order to get treatment. It’s good to know that there’s proof out there where big pharma is not one’s only

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