What do you think when you hear “music therapy?” Many times, the first idea that comes to mind is using music to help people relax, but what if I told you that it is that and so much more? Music therapy is a profession that formally began after World War I and World War II with community musicians (both amateur and professional) going to veterans’ hospitals around the country to play for veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. Since then, the profession has grown into a clinical and evidence-based service that uses music, music therapy techniques, and the therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Music Therapists work in different settings and with different populations, such as hospice care, general hospitals, correctional facilities, mental health services, and special education.

On July 31, 2019 Governor Gavin Newson approved AB1540.  This bill provides a statutory definition of music therapy and prevents individuals from using the title “Board- Certified Music Therapist” if the individual has not completed specified education and clinical training requirements. This bill also enables consumers and state and local agencies to more easily identify qualified Board-Certified Music Therapists.  

The music therapy program at Crestwood Manor in Stockton was started in July 2018. Since then, some of the great work being done at Crestwood Manor through music therapy includes music therapy groups for residents, one to one music therapy services, and music therapy for staff to reduce burnout and increase staff camaraderie as part of our Organizational Wellness Landscape (O.W.L.) project. A few examples of music therapy interventions include singing, music improvisation, music performance, receptive music listening, songwriting, lyric/song discussion, music-assisted relaxation, music and imagery, and movement to music. What can one expect from a Music Therapist that works in a behavioral health setting? A few examples include exploration of personal feelings and therapeutic issues such as self-esteem or personal insight; positive changes in mood and emotional states; a sense of control over life through successful experiences; enhanced awareness of self and environment; opportunities to express oneself both verbally and non-verbally; and development of coping and relaxation skills.  Music therapy is a powerful recovery tool that we can use in all of our Crestwood programs to help provide soothing healing and wellness to our clients and staff.

 –Contributed by: Jesus Garcia, MT-BC (Board-Certified Music Therapist), Crestwood Manor, Stockton.