Scientists have proved that music has certain medicinal effects that can facilitate healing, relieve stress, manage pain, improve mood, and address a variety of mental health issues. Music has also been utilized as a learning aid and a medium that promotes communication skills. Music therapy is the structured use of music to address the wide range of personal ills and deficiencies that music can address.
Although the positive effects of music on the human psyche has been understood since the Biblical Old Testament times of Israel's King Saul, the congealment of music therapy into a professional clinical field was not until the twentieth century when the United States Veterans Administration began using music to treat soldiers returning from fighting in the World Wars. These situations helped American physicians and scientists pioneer techniques that use music to relieve pain.
Therapeutic professionals formed a professional association in the 1950s that helped organize the field while extending it to include mental health patients. From that early association, two leading music therapy professional organizations developed and eventually merged in the late 20th century to form the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
What does a music therapist do? Eyebrows likely rise when people meet music therapy professionals because of the relative obscurity of the profession. Still, thousands of music therapists are at work in the United States and around the world, helping thousands of patients find relief from pain, peace of mind, and improved personal development. Music therapy has also been used as an effective treatment for autism.