When I tell people I want to be a music therapist I get one of 3 reactions. 1) What's that? This is the most common, and my main goal is not to make people sorry they asked because I could go on for weeks. 2)Music therapy is so amazing! I love this reaction and I always ask how they came to this conclusion. 3) (here's the fun part!) Like pet therapy! I've given it some thought and decided since having people pet a cute little dog has all the same healing properties as music I should stop spending all this money and time to become a highly trained perfessional.
Wait...come to think of it my dream of working in a mental health facility wouldn't go so well with pet therapy. One, my little dog would be in danger from violent clients in an inpatient facility. With pet therapy there is very little cognative stimulation and mood alteration. Any cheering up that might take place ends once the dog is gone. Though it might make people a little less uncomfortable, it does nothing to get them out of there.
I could always take my puppy and help out in neonatal intensive care unit. Wouldn't it be so cool to help babies who don't know how learn to breath and regulate their own body temperature? Even better, I could teach mothers to bond with their children. The most tender and rewarding part on NICU is helping parents remember the babies that don't live. Recordings and memories become more precious than gold. Where does the dog come in? I'm not sure, but I'll let you know when I figure it out.
I could make a world better that has always been difficult for me. Anesthisia! I could help people relax before surgery with a carefully prepared mix of their favorite songs calculated to relax and lower heart rate and resperation rate. I could also help people wake up with music that is both comfortable and stimulating. I could reduce the need for drugs by using a natural tool and therefore minimize the risk of any side effects. To bad nothing with dander would be alowed in pre or post op.
I could work in oncology! The truth is there is a great deal of pet therapy in that arena. It can help with making the hospital envioronment more healing. The pet therapy also allows for socialization. It would be nice if there were a therapy that could teach the kids what they are missing in school and gives the adults a medium to express themselves. What if there was a therapy with proven evidence to help with the pain during and after bone marrow transplants. Music might help, especially according to the American Music Therapy Association. Maybe they need both.
I could work with developmentally disabled and autistic children. Even though a dog couldn't teach scoial or academic skills it might be able to put the children in the moment. Some of them. It can't however give them control over their environment the way improvisation can, and with an excited little puppy, there wouldn't be very much structure either. Music can reach out and alter brain chemistry and also allow for more positive behavioal control experiences. Music also gives nonverbal people a medium of communication.
What about plaliative care (hospice)? A dog could give some people in that situation something to love. Maybe give peole a chance to reminice about their lives? Or help the patient and the family go through the greiving process and give all involved a chance to create of beauty and meaning? Good thing puppies hold still and listen to sick people.
How about nursing home? Pet therapy is used there. It gives the people in the nursing home something to look forward to. I wonder if dogs help with mobility. Can you combine pet therapy with motion for the patient and teach them how to walk again? How about memory, can they provide short term and working memory stimulation? And while I'm at it, I can use my dog to provide the residents with communication skills. I just don't know how.
Now I don't want anyone to misundersand me. I like pet therapy and if I were in the hospital or a nursing home I would want it. Contact with another living being and physical contact have strong healing properties. I hope there is an increase in the use of pet therapy in the near future. I'm just sayin' that music therapy is not just a helping hand, it is a medical treatment for all populations. The practicioners study and intern with all the population and most of them have minors in psychology or physiology. They have to certify on four different instruments and take a class and a practicum on all populations. I think pet therapy is wonderful, but I think that the uses of music therapy are different and far more diverse. I chose my field so I can help people in all these populations, and possibly more.