How Music Therapy Can Heal the Mind and Touch the Soul

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Lester Kiewit spoke to Caley Garden, a licensed music therapist at Musicworks, about the wonders of music therapy.

Music is known as a universal language.

It has the power to arouse emotions and incite action.

Music can be a mood changer as well as a unifier in crowded spaces like concerts and nightclubs – among others.

Additionally, music can be used as a therapeutic tool.

In a world where so many people suffer from mental health issues such as depression, grief, and anxiety, music therapy is often seen as an unlikely alternative.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of musical interventions to meet a variety of health care and educational needs.

Whether you’re channeling the angst of a heavy metal drummer or the drive and joy of a marimba player, music therapy not only enhances creativity, but also helps overcome trauma and grief.

So how does it work?

Lester Kiewit spoke with Caley Garden, a licensed music therapist at Musicworks, to learn more about music therapy.

We all use music day to day, but a music therapist uses music so intentionally. Whatever the needs of our clients, we use music as a tool to help them through what they are going through.

Caley Garden, Licensed Music Therapist at Musicworks

Whether it’s a child or an adult, most music is created organically.

If you are my client I would give you instruments and no matter how you play it is your unique expression and I play with you. It becomes a jam session. And that becomes a form of creating a relationship with the therapist and the client.

Caley Garden, Licensed Music Therapist at Musicworks

But when does noise become music and when does music become noise? For Garden, anything goes.

It’s your most authentic expression and it’s the idea that we are all musicians. So you don’t need to have any training or experience. It’s powerful because in talk therapy you can set up defenses. But in music, if you can’t play anything, you can just express yourself and all that comes out is your voice.

Caley Garden, Licensed Music Therapist at Musicworks

Music therapy has been instrumental in helping people with depression.

A depressed client may play very slow, flat music. As a therapist, I will play their music. It’s like it was thrown back to them and they felt very safe and heard. From there, we’ll start guiding them to a different experience that might help them get out of their depression.

Caley Garden, Licensed Music Therapist at Musicworks

Musicworks works extensively in Cape Flats schools, where children are exposed to violence, gangsterism, drugs and other social evils.

Garden found that children in these social settings are hyper-excited and traumatized.

We receive children who behave badly in class. Sometimes they are aggressive, loud and disruptive, or extremely withdrawn and quiet. So we group these children together and we use music to help them regulate and calm down. We allow them to express some of that aggression and anger. There are plenty of drum games and activities for them to connect with each other and build strong, healthy relationships.

Caley Garden, Licensed Music Therapist at Musicworks

To learn more about Musicworks, visit https://musicworks.org.za/

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