Therapeutic goodness of music

Kathmandu

Music is definitely for entertainment. But times have showed time and again that it has a purpose beyond that. Take the present time for instance. In such trying times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are using music for awareness, to keep oneself engaged, and as therapy to heal from and deal with the current crisis.

“The usage of music as a therapeutic tool offers numerous psychological and physiological benefits,” shares Shreeti Pradhan, a clinical music therapist. “Music therapy, particularly in the current situation, can support individuals in relaxation, grounding, and processing of difficult emotions.” Music therapy sessions are facilitated under direct supervision of certified music therapists. Despite certain logistical and technical limitations in the present situation, Pradhan is facilitating both individual and group therapeutic music sessions through online mediums.

On Saturday mornings, she is working in collaboration with psychotherapist Prathama Raghavan, and mental health worker Raji Manjari, to deliver therapy-based guided sessions for calmness and grounding which is open to any individual who is interested.

In the meantime, she is also doing online sessions with a couple of individual clients who have learning difficulties like autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in coordination with Association for Welfare of Intellectual Handicapped.

The musical activities for online sessions are tailored to “address the health needs which pertain to emotional well-being”.

She uses breath work, Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) and music with movement and art to address emotional needs of participants.

“Musical tools like drumming, songwriting, chanting are used to enrich creativity, support emotional release, and aid positive self-development. For example, a process of chanting in 60-80 beats per minute can formulate relaxation. This can help in slowing down heart rate, thus lowering blood pressure and instilling a calmer state of mind,” she explains.

And she is doing it creatively. “My participants and I are using available household items like kitchen utensils and stationery items to play music together. It is a fun activity for both children and adults,” shares Pradhan, who is using music therapy in various hospitals and health care centres with children with learning differences (Autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome) and physical impairments (hearing, speech, visual) as well as with women and children who are experiencing psychological and mental health challenges in a rehabilitation centre.

Though music therapy can only be practised under the guidance of skilled therapist, various kinds of music can offer therapeutic effects in relation to how an individual or a group makes use of it.

“Soft piece of music with sounds of nature can help us relax, while a steady drum beat can offer us space for creative exploration through improvisation. Which means, when we listen to our favourite music, it can evoke a certain type of emotion which might make us feel clam or joyful,” she says.

As per her, some musical activities we can do at home to feel relaxed are listening to songs and just drawing or doodling, singing along, and also writing something on paper while listening to music can help us release our emotions.

Pradhan can be contacted at musictherapy.shreetipradhan@gmail.com

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 24, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.