“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” – Plato
Music therapy at Pacific Quest is a creative therapeutic approach to helping troubled teens through the use of songs, sounds, instruments and lyrics. Music is a already a medium that teens tend to gravitate to naturally, so it can be a very effective resource.
Research shows that music can affect every part of the teenage brain, including emotions and the brain chemicals transmitting information throughout their body.
A music therapist helps teens deal with troubling problems or behaviors, resolve conflicts, and helps teens feel accepted for being themselves through the use of music. In addition, creating music can also be a metaphor for learning how to live; and learning how to make music is a step-by-step process that builds on itself, in much the same way that a health rewarding life is built.
Music Therapy: A Little History
Music as a therapeutic tool has been used for centuries, affecting many areas of the brain, including the regions involved with emotion, cognition, sensation, and movement. Because of this, music is uniquely effective in the treatment of a wide array of physical and mental problems, including but not limited to anxiety, stress, depression and addictions. It has also been associated with improvements in self-esteem, self-concept, verbal communication, pro-social behavior, better social skills, group cohesion, and coping mechanisms.
Colleges and universities began to include music therapy as part of their curriculum, beginning with Michigan State University in 1944. The Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) presented programs during the late 1940’s to educate musicians, physicians, psychiatrists, and others in the ways that therapeutic music could be effectively used in schools and hospitals. Then in 1950, the first major professional organization for music therapists was formed–the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT). In 1998, the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was formed out of a merger between the NAMT and the American Association for Music Therapy.
Stress And Teenagers Today
Experts who work with teens say that the pressures of schoolwork, social life, sports or other activities — combined with a relentless social media culture — means that teenagers are more stressed out than ever before.
Remember the American notion of a carefree youth? Today’s teens are every bit as stressed as the adults around them and many times even more. According to an annual survey published by the American Psychological Association, teens today routinely say that their school-year stress levels are far higher than they think is healthy and their average reported stress exceeds that of adults. Research also shows that on average 30% of American teens reported feeling sad or depressed because of stress and 31% felt overwhelmed. Another 36% say that stress makes them very tired and 23% said they’ve actually skipped meals because of it.
Of all the forms of therapy, music therapy holds a special place in supporting teenage growth and development. In many ways music defines teens, it is a type of language for them and music choices often determine which peers they hang out with.
The significance of rock & pop music is not essentially connected with the fact that a teen has neither words nor commonly shared ways of expressing the new and never before experienced changes taking place internally. Music emotionally affects teens at a deeper level than is possible with words alone. Music can enable them to express, to be in contact with and to share amongst themselves feelings of anger, rage, grief, longing, isolation, psychological disintegration etc., as well as to experience closeness. It can also safely lull and calm the teen into regressive moods and – with its musical clarity, simplicity and volume – give shelter to the distressed and may sometimes even be of help to out of control teenagers.
How Music Therapy Can Help Relive Teenage Stress
You don’t have to be a teen to know how one song can change your mood, thoughts and emotions! The methods employed in music therapy can be roughly divided into active or receptive techniques. When a person is making music, whether by singing, chanting, playing musical instruments, composing, or improvising music, that is active.
Receptive techniques, on the other hand can involve listening to and responding to music, such as through dance or the analysis of lyrics. Both Active and receptive techniques are often combined during treatment, and both are used as starting points for the discussion of feelings, values, and goals. Many experts suggest that it is the rhythm of the music that has the calming effect on teens and although they may not be very conscious about it Teenagers respond to calm soothing music, learning to associate it with safe, relaxing, protective environments
Here are some possible examples for music therapy activities:
Teens may be asked to write songs, listen to the lyrics of specific songs or discuss how certain music changes the way they feel.
Singing along with the lyrics of a song can provide a healthy release of painful or difficult emotions.
- Soothing music can help anxious teenagers relax.
- Upbeat music can help a depressed teen improve her mood.
- Writing new lyrics to a song can help identify the reasons for feelings of sadness.
- They can develop their own ‘theme song,’ a song they create that defines who they
- It can be listened to if they are feeling sad or need to boost their self-esteem.
If a teenager is angry about a situation, they could write a song, sing the song, or add music to the lyrics.