Music therapists use many specific techniques to improve the lives of their patients. We are trained to design and implement interventions that use elements of music to stabilize, improve, or enhance functioning. One of the techniques I use daily in my individual clinical work is called entrainment, which means matching.
I use this most often with babies, patients in low awareness states, and patients needing non-pharmacological pain relief. I first assess the patient and choose a tempo from their body – it could be a baby’s rhythmic screaming, a teenager’s breathing rate, or a heart rate from a monitor. Then, I create music with my voice and/or an accompanying instrument that matches that tempo.
Matching a patient’s body rhythms often produces a relaxation response.
We get in sync and then slow down together. In the hospital setting, I can watch their monitors and see their heart rates decreasing and oxygen saturation increasing. This means they are calming and their breathing is becoming more effective. Continue reading