Music as therapy

Alf Gabrielsson

in Strong Experiences with Music

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199695225
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729775 | DOI:
Music as therapy

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In several earlier accounts, there have been glimpses of how strong experiences with music can have a therapeutic effect. It is, however, difficult to determine where the border might be said to run between generally positive effects on well-being and health, and a ‘genuinely’ therapeutic effect — it is a question of definitions and of various considerations. This chapter presents a number of examples of experiences which the narrators themselves have described as decisive moments during a critical condition, something that came to be a turning point in a positive direction. Some narrators also use the word ‘therapy’ in their description of the experience. While therapy as a rule assumes the participation of a therapist — and this is true in different kinds of so-called music therapy too — there is no such therapist in these accounts. It is the music itself that is the active agent, the ‘therapist’. The music, so to speak, intervenes in the course of events and turns a negative state towards a positive direction. The accounts have been grouped into two sections. The first concerns the alleviation of physical pain; the second the alleviation of problems such as stress, uneasiness, anxiety, or depression.

Keywords: strong experiences with music; pain relief; stress; anxiety; depression; music therapy; turning point

Chapter.  7573 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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