But wait…Is Music Therapy Scientifically Proven?
Hi there, I’m Kun and I’d love it if you’d join me as I share the research that supports music therapy’s effectiveness, particularly with autistic individuals.
So, let’s dive into the question:
Is music therapy scientifically proven? And how can music therapy support people with autism?
1. The Symphony of Scientific Research:
Music therapy is not just a melodic notion—it’s a field rooted in scientific inquiry. Over the years, numerous studies have examined the impact of music therapy on individuals with dementia, autism, in hospitals, neurorehabilitation, early childhood development and more. One of the leading universities dedicated to this research is right here in Australia – the University of Melbourne where they house the Music Therapy Research Unit. Studies conducted there and around the world have revealed compelling evidence supporting the effectiveness of music therapy interventions in enhancing communication, social interaction, emotional well-being, and sensory processing.
2. Enhancing Communication and Language Skills:
Research has shown that music therapy can improve communication and language skills in individuals with autism. A study conducted by Sharda and colleagues in 2015, was able to reveal that autistic individuals demonstrated better social and communication responses when they were sung to, rather than spoken to (wow)! Engaging in music-based activities, such as singing, rhythmic exercises, and improvisation, facilitates language development, promotes verbal expression, and enhances overall communication abilities. Scientific studies have consistently demonstrated the positive impact music therapy may have on communication outcomes for individuals with autism.
3. Fostering Social Interaction:
Music therapy serves as a powerful catalyst for social engagement. Through group music-making, turn-taking activities, and interactive musical games, music therapy promotes social interaction, facilitates peer connections, and enhances social communication skills. Scientific research has highlighted the effectiveness of music therapy in fostering social engagement and reducing social anxiety in individuals on the autism spectrum, particularly in children (Bharathi, 2019).
4. Studies on Music and the Brain
Music therapy as a method to be used in neurorehabilitation has been scientifically substantiated through a growing body of research. Numerous studies have employed neuroimaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), to investigate the effects of music therapy on the brain. These studies consistently demonstrate measurable changes in brain structure and activity following music therapy interventions. The scientific evidence reveals enhanced connectivity and activity in regions involved in auditory processing, motor coordination, language processing, emotional regulation, and memory formation. These findings provide robust support for the efficacy of music therapy in promoting neuroplasticity that can lead to changes that benefit people in their daily lives. The scientific research highlights music therapy as a viable therapeutic approach to facilitate neural reorganisation and improve cognitive, motor, and emotional abilities in diverse populations.
5. Sensory Sensations:
Autistic individuals often experience sensory processing differences, and music therapy can provide a harmonious environment to address these challenges. Scientific studies have shown that music therapy interventions can positively impact sensory processing by providing structured auditory stimuli, regulating sensory responses, and facilitating sensory integration. This research-backed approach helps individuals with autism navigate sensory experiences with greater ease and comfort.
Is Music Therapy Scientifically Proven? Let's wrap up.
Music therapy is not only a melodious endeavour but also a scientifically grounded approach. The scientific research consistently demonstrates the positive impact of music therapy on communication, social interaction, emotional well-being, and sensory processing.
Music therapy is an allied health profession, so be sure to check with your provider that your music therapist is professionally registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association and has completed a Master of Music Therapy or equivalent. That way you know you are getting the best possible service with someone who knows all the science and methods behind music therapy.
If you’re interested in exploring the transformative power of music therapy or seeking more information about our music therapy services at Creative Therapy Adelaide, we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch on our contact page or give us a call at (08) 7080 4618 to find out more.