MUSIC THERAPY AND ANXIETY IN CHILDREN
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
According to the latest statistics, as many as one in six children aged 5 to 16 faces a mental health challenges, and a significant number of these cases are related to some form of anxiety. While it is perfectly normal for all of us to have fears and worries from time to time - and it is perfectly normal for our brain to protect us from it - when you regularly feel disproportionate levels of anxiety and if continuous feelings of anxiety impact your ability to carry out life as normal, you could have an anxiety disorder.
Most common types of children anxiety are:
Generalised anxiety disorder - causes your child to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. Separation anxiety - children worry a lot about not being with their parents or carers, often refuses to enter a school gate on their own. Social anxiety - is when your child is scared to go out in public, see friends or take part in activities. Being shy is perfectly normal for some children, but it becomes a problem when everyday activities like shopping or speaking on the phone cause intense, overwhelming fear. School based anxiety - when some children become anxious about going to school, schoolwork, friendships, or bullying, especially if they're changing school or moving up to the next class. They may not always share these worries with you, and instead complain of tummy aches or feeling sick. Watch out for signs like crying or seeming tired in the morning. A fear or phobia - children are commonly afraid of things like monsters, dogs or water. This is a perfectly normal part of growing up but again when the fear becomes overwhelming and affects your child's day-to-day life - it’s called phobia.
If you notice that an anxiety is making your child’s life difficult, it is time to act. Your child needs help, before the anxiety develops even more, as untreated anxiety disorders can lead to extremely negative consequences.
One of the options to help with anxiety is music therapy. Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship. "It brings up memories. It takes us back to places and times that we remember fondly. And it's healing in that way. Music has a way to let us express our feelings and emotions where sometimes words fall short." (Bob Huffman)
Music therapy touches all aspects of the mind, body, brain and behaviour. Music can provide a distraction for the mind, it can slow down the heartbeat, and it can alter our mood, which in turn can influence behaviour. Often it is easier to express emotions through music, than to speak about feelings.
Music therapy sessions are tailored to the client’s needs, including physical health, communication abilities, cognitive skills, emotional well-being, and interests. A music therapy session may incorporate different elements, such as making music, writing songs, or listening to music. In music therapy, music is used as a tool, to achieve therapeutic goal.
The power of music is commonly known, and it goes back for thousands of years. “The use of music to influence the human body was first mentioned in writing in Egyptian medical papyri dating back to 1500 BCE” according to Rolando Benenzon. Greco-Roman, Arabian, Indian, and Chinese traditions of learned medicine all include various notions of music used in a therapeutic way. Stories and quotes from mythological and biblical sources also provide evidence of music being used as a therapy. Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables, said: "Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent."
Today we often forget about music. We shouldn’t. Music therapy is appropriate for people of all ages, whether they are tone deaf or virtuosos, struggling with loss, stress, illness, phobias, learning difficulties or disabilities, or whether they are healthy, as music can get people through everything. The power of music.