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January 24, 1996

Leaving Concert Hall for Clinic, Therapists Now Test Music's 'Charms'

JAMA. 1996;275(4):267-268. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530280017006

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USING MUSIC as treatment for psychological or physical disorders is an idea that has existed in many forms, in many cultures, and for many centuries. But its application as a specific means of therapeutic intervention is a development largely of the mid 20th century.

Essentially, music therapy is the building of a relationship between patient and specially trained therapist using music as the basis for communication. The therapist does not teach singing or playing an instrument; rather, the instrument and the voice are used to explore the world of sound and create a common musical language with the patient. Both therapist and patient take an active part in the therapy sessions through playing, singing, or listening.

Music therapists work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, special schools, and hospices. Their patients, or clients as they prefer to call them, include children and adults of all ages and