We know that music therapy DOES often help with depression but HOW is the question being answered in this study from Finland (bloody Scandinavians really have this stuff sorted! Again! ;)). Participants were engaged in twenty sessions of co-improvisational music with trained music therapists and researchers found the following points …
Meaningfulness and pleasure
- There is a strong link between depression and lack of meaningfulness and pleasure in life. A strong relationship between music therapist and client and the aesthetics of creating something together can bring about pleasure. A music therapist can also bring out the personality of the patient - a shaky pulse for example can be incorporated into the experience or bring out a sad tone that is vital to psychotherapy. For those of us who have experienced playing music with another, we know the joy when the two players come together and produce something and when we can read each other and know when the piece comes to an end or when it needs to change. There is an unspoken connection and this helps us to feel at one with the instruments and those involved. It helps us to belong. The music can be used to help develop and expand on underlying feelings and expose truths the players were not aware of.
- The act of purposeful physical movement allows us to 'live in the moment'. This has been happening and continues to happen in states of depression - unknowingly tapping your foot to music and being enchanted by a piece that moves along unexpectedly are examples of how we are subconsciously caught up in the physicality of music. But to be purposely involved allows us to acknowledge and listen to our bodies and leads to something meaningful in the here and now.
- Often our first bonding moments with other humans are to do with voice and song. Parents often sing to their babies before they are even born and there are studies showing that this has a very empowering effect on a newborn, whereas those that go without are at a disadvantage when it comes to relating to others. The mother's heart is the first beat we hear so it's no wonder we are powerfully drawn to music. We continuously learn through song and movement, the ABCs come a lot easier when we find a rhythm and song to it. The role of the music therapist is to musically nurture the patient so they may find self-relation and develop relationships with others. We are hard wired for musical engagement and interaction and as we know, this kind of interaction is not achievable through words alone.
Music therapy is an extremely useful tool in depression. It helps us connect with ourselves and others, develop our physical skills and explore feelings . It helps us find our 'human' and takes us back to our days of being nurtured and helps us to nurture back.
I don't know how to sign off on this blog. This study really moved me and I hope it moved you in some way too. If you think this therapy could help someone please share this information with them and get in contact with me to find a therapist who could help.
Yours in music