The positive effects of music and art therapy on serious illnesses have been the focus of many recent studies. The results show that music engagement, visual arts, creative movement activities and expressive writing significantly impact mood and provide positive health effects for those who are suffering from chronic illness and mental illness.
While chronic diseases are a nationwide problem, music and art therapy have been studied in cases of diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well as psychosocial problems. Some of the positive effects that music and art therapy can have on individuals include:
- Reduce symptoms
- Alter thinking patterns
- Reduced muscle tension
- Decreased anxiety
- Enhanced interpersonal relationships
- Increased motivation
- Improved self-image
- Built confidence
- Increased verbalization
- Safe emotional release
Music and art therapy through painting, singing, playing instruments, drawing, dance or other creative outlets has dramatically improved the mood of many patients. It’s even been shown to help the elderly as they age and develop different illnesses.
How Psychological Growth and Changes in the Brain Stimulate These Effects
One of the main reasons that therapy improves illness in young and old suffering from different diseases is psychological growth. Multiple studies have shown that while this type of treatment provides better mood, it also improves self-esteem and confidence in patients.
Also, it also helps patients set and meet different goals. For instance, a study at the North Carolina Children’s Hospital with music therapy showed that it helped children focus and return home faster. Music therapy also helps with motor skills, reading and brain functions. Several studies have also demonstrated that autistic children learn to focus their creativity and be more tolerant of change because of music therapy.
Music and visual arts therapy have also been shown to improve schizophrenia and similar mental illnesses as well. They learn a different way to communicate and express emotions. In all studies, music therapy was shown to enhance standard care by giving them an outlet for creativity. They had a more focused mental state and were able to communicate how they felt by playing different musical instruments.
Art therapy has been shown to improve self-expression and emotional growth for many reasons in cases of mental and physical illness. With enhanced self-confidence, patients were able to interact with others positively while also using a creative outlet to express how they felt.
In cases of chemical dependency and substance abuse, musical and art therapy has also shown to have positive effects on patients. In one study, pottery classes were used to improve psychological well-being. They were able to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety while boosting self-esteem.
Different Programs for Children, Adults, and Elderly Provide Similar Results
Several programs at colleges, rehabilitation facilities, and hospitals have shown how music and art therapy positively affects patients. Most institutions implement art and music programs as a series of classes or group activities. For example in drug rehabilitation facilities, art therapy is used as a way to decrease feelings of anxiety while also improving relationships with other patients.
In children’s hospitals, a combination of art and music classes has improved the symptoms of depression and even alleviated symptoms from more severe mental and physical illnesses. In cases of ADHD, post-traumatic disorder, autism, bipolar disease and schizophrenia, children were able to use painting as a way to alleviate their symptoms and continuously build confidence in their abilities.
For senior citizens, music and art therapy have also been implemented in nursing homes and hospitals through classes and daily group activities. Some work in groups to create different projects while others work on solo projects. In one study, elderly patients chose an instrument to learn. The results revealed that they had improved mood including positive feelings about their illness while also focusing less on symptoms of serious diseases.
Through art classes, patients can visually communicate what they may be feeling inside or explain parts of themselves that they previously did not want to share. They can work with their own emotions and continuously work on a goal to produce a final project. In the end, they create something that represents their self-expression while also working through difficulties of mental and physical illness.
How to Apply Music and Art Therapy to Cope with Daily Life
Whether you enjoy playing an instrument or love the feel of a paintbrush in your hand, there are so many different ways to create and express yourself through music and art therapy. It gives the brain a chance to grow while also focusing on something else for a while that doesn’t involve the daily stresses of life. As you learn to play a new song or mix different colors on canvas, emotions and thoughts become fluid, and it takes your mind away.
Music and art therapy has been proven beneficial for many people, not just those who are sick or dealing with a severe mental illness. Many people today suffer from some form of anxiety or depression. As visual arts or performing arts allow for psychological growth, changes occur in the brain and provide a new way to view different aspects of life. In some cases, it can even give answers to life’s most terrible problems.
There are many ways to find music and art activities even if you have never attempted any before. You can look at one of the top 50 art blogs for inspiration, visit sites like DeviantArt.com or look at some beginner to advanced level musical instruction video channels on YouTube. For some, it’s just a matter of picking up an instrument that they have always wanted to try to learn something different.
Community centers and groups also provide art and music classes. For example, your local church may have a choir group, or you can volunteer at a children’s hospital art program to learn and help others with artistic expression. Dancing classes are also available in public, and private gyms, schools, church groups and social meet up events.
How Music and Art Therapy Has Affected Those in Everyday Life
For those that are suffering from such conditions as manic depression, personality disorder, and diabetes, every day is a struggle. These individuals can find motivation through developing their artistic and musical abilities. Going to art classes or playing the piano is two examples of great activities.
Through these activities, individuals acquire a determined drive to teach themselves and others something and show a creative. Some individuals may find their love of music and art growing to a point where they begin teaching music or giving art classes to others in the community. It is inspiring to see those who were once victims of their suffering blossom and paint these incredible portraits and landscapes or write their very own song. It is a miracle to see someone who was once afflicted by mental illnesses and diabetes, turn into someone who has helped themselves and others express different emotions and creativity that many never thought possible.
Volunteering at a children’s hospital where patients are going through a variety of troubles, many can see another side to music and art therapy. Children show a remarkable perseverance no matter what the circumstances when they are given something to occupy their attention that is so consuming and goal-oriented. Whether it was one little boy learning how to play guitar for the first time or a little girl developing a love for watercolor, you could see the happiness enveloping their faces as they worked tirelessly to improve their skills.
Addiction treatment is another area where music and art therapy are added to treatment programs. A patient of a rehab, who is struggling to put back the pieces of their life together, may be able to get out their frustrations and pain in the song that they write or the painting that they paint. Music and art therapy become a health method of releasing stress and frustrations creatively and expressively.
There are so many ways to improve your life and the lives of others with music and art. By picking up a paintbrush or sitting down at a piano, you open up a new sense of the world and pluck at your creative conscious to develop something beautiful.