Medical Definition of Music therapy

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Music therapy: The use of music in therapy; the therapeutic use of music. There are many different definitions of music therapy ranging from the trivial (a form of distraction that uses music as an aid to relaxation) to the lofty (the prescribed use of music to restore, maintain, and improve emotional, physical, physiological, and spiritual health and well-being).

Music therapy facilitates the creative process of moving toward wholeness in the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self in areas such as: independence, freedom to change, adaptability, balance and integration. The implementation of music therapy involves interactions of the therapist, client and music. These interactions initiate and sustain musical and non-musical change processes which may or may not be observable. As the musical elements of rhythm, melody and harmony are elaborated across time, the therapist and client can develop relationships which optimize the quality of life. (Based on the definition of music therapy in the Joint Declaration of the 1982 International Symposium of Music Therapists)

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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