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Humans have been using music as a soothing influence for centuries. The concrete idea of using music as therapy, however, has only been around since the early 1900s. Music therapy can provide physical, mental, and emotional healing for many individuals.

Music Therapy: A History

The formal profession of music therapy in America started after World War I, when amateur and trained musicians alike began to tour veteran hospitals around the country. They played for thousands of traumatized veterans and quickly realized the positive effect it was having on the population. Hospitals began to employ trained musicians to play for other patients and the profession blossomed.

In 1998, two national music therapy organizations merged to become the American Music Therapy Association. AMTA seeks to advocate and educate for the music therapy profession and represents music therapists both in the US and in over thirty foreign countries.

How Does Music Therapy Work?

Clinical music therapy seeks to apply the emotional experiences of music for health and education purposes. Certified music therapists have a degree in music therapy, hold certain credentials, and are required to complete continuing education courses. Music therapists work with patients to create customized therapy programs that target each individual’s therapeutic needs.

Music therapy is recommended for a variety of issues, including:

  • Alzheimer’s & dementia
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Brain injuries
  • Childbirth and neonatal care
  • Children with emotional disorders
  • Developmental delays
  • Geriatrics
  • Hearing loss
  • Mental health
  • Pain
  • Palliative care
  • Physical disabilities
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stress management
  • Substance abuse

Music therapy for people with hearing loss is complex, because it is entwined with the ability to hear. The therapy geared toward patients with hearing loss tends to focus on auditory training, expanding residual hearing, speech production, and language development.

Benefits of Music Therapy for Hearing Loss

Music is a very useful tool, as it helps patients work on distinguishing sounds and pitches. It also increases a patient’s attention to sound and recognizing differences in sound, which is important if you have hearing loss. This therapy can be beneficial for people who are getting used to hearing aids or cochlear implants and learning how to navigate the world with a lessened sense of hearing.

In addition, there is a type of music therapy that may be successful at treating tinnitus. While it is not fully realized yet, German researchers have discovered that listening to certain frequencies of music for long periods of time can actually decrease the volume of the in-ear ringing.

If you suffer from hearing loss and struggle to distinguish sounds, or you recently received hearing aids or cochlear implants, music therapy could be very beneficial. Ask your doctor or audiologist if this therapy can help you!


By: Elena McPhillips