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   Music in Therapy
   Music for Therapy
   Music as Therapy
   Raga-Kriya and Laya
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 Table of Contents    
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 240-241
Music in, as, or for therapy

St. John's Research Institute, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

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Date of Web Publication17-Jul-2017

How to cite this article:
Sravanti L. Music in, as, or for therapy. Indian J Psychiatry 2017;59:240-1

How to cite this URL:
Sravanti L. Music in, as, or for therapy. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Dec 6];59:240-1. Available from:

There is enough scientific evidence for therapeutic effects of music, and music therapy is being increasingly acknowledged around the world as a field that requires professional expertise. However, there is still a long way to go before it becomes a regular practice to utilize music for nonpharmacological management of patients in a general hospital setting. A brief outline of various ways of employing music for alleviating distress and improving mental health is presented here.

   Music in Therapy Top

Music can serve various purposes from aiding in the establishment of therapeutic alliance with children who are shy or have anxiety problems [1] to rehabilitation of persons suffering from dementia.[2] While playing an instrument can help improve motor skills, songwriting can enhance one's self-esteem.[3] Range of its uses in therapy is really wide.

   Music for Therapy Top

Music may be used for psychotherapy to engage a person in a dialog and achieve certain therapeutic goals. Like conventional psychotherapy, it can also be classified into different categories based on the underlying principle such as psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, humanistic, and mindfulness-based music therapy.[4],[5],[6]

   Music as Therapy Top

Music as therapy refers to exploiting therapeutic potential of a piece of music played or sung, which means the effects obtained depend on the rhythm, melody of music or scale used, and so on. Ragachikitsa elaborated in ancient Indian text works on the premise that different ragas have different effects on the human body.[7] One can draw a parallel between this Indian music healing system and anthroposophical music therapy, which is based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner.[8] Essentially both use specific musical sequences and tonalities to address specific ailments.[7],[8] Music as therapy has been used in a different sense by a subset of music therapists following Nordoff–Robbins' approach who lay emphasis on the process of healing and do not focus on applying therapeutic analysis in the process of recovery. And hence, the school promotes music therapy.[9]

   Raga-Kriya and Laya Top

The first five chakras or energy fields in human body, namely, Muladhara, Swadishthana, Manipura, Anahata, and Vishuddhi are associated with the five elements of nature – earth, water, fire, air, and ether. In the painting [Figure 1], they are represented by brown soil, blue waves, yellow-red flames, white bubble enclosing air, and dark blue sky, respectively. Nadalayayoga or Layayoga lays down foundation for Ragachikitsa. According to this science, music can evoke and restore vibrations of chakras and strike a balance leading to positive health consequences.[10] Human beings are also part of nature and their “true” nature is “nature” itself. Hence, neurons are depicted in green in the painting, symbolic of the harmonious state of mental functioning achieved through the medium of music, which acts on the chakra system represented by nature's elements in the background.
Figure 1: Raga - Kriya and Laya

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Amir D. Re-finding the voice-music therapy with a girl who has selective mutism. Nord J Music Ther 2005;14:67-77.  Back to cited text no. 1
Zhang Y, Cai J, An L, Hui F, Ren T, Ma H, et al. Does music therapy enhance behavioral and cognitive function in elderly dementia patients? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ageing Res Rev 2017;35:1-11.  Back to cited text no. 2
Baker F, Wigram T, Stott D, McFerran K. Therapeutic songwriting in music therapy. Part I: Who are the therapists, who are the clients, and why is songwriting used. Nord J Music Ther 2008;17:105-23.  Back to cited text no. 3
Wheeler B. The relationship between music and theories of psychotherapy. Music Ther 1981;1:9-16.  Back to cited text no. 4
Scovel M, Gardstrom S. Music therapy within the context of psychotherapeutic models. In: Unkefer RF, Thaut MH, editors. Music Therapy in the Treatment of Adults with Mental Disorders: Theoretical Bases and Clinical Interventions. Gilsum NH: Barcelona Publishers; 2005. p. 117-32.  Back to cited text no. 5
Lesiuk T. The development of a mindfulness-based music therapy (MBMT) program for women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. Healthcare (Basel) 2016;4. pii: E53.  Back to cited text no. 6
Sarkar J, Biswas U. An effect of Raga Therapy on our human body. Int J Humanit Soc Sci Res 2015;1:40-3.  Back to cited text no. 7
Intveen A, Edwards J, The history and basic tenets of anthroposophical music therapy. Voices 2012;12:1-19  Back to cited text no. 8
Ansdell G. Music for Life: Aspects of Creative Music Therapy with Adult Clients. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 1995.  Back to cited text no. 9
Nalapat S. Ragacikitsa (Music Therapy). New Delhi: Readworthy Publications; 2008.  Back to cited text no. 10

Correspondence Address:
Lakshmi Sravanti
St. John's Research Institute, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_188_17

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