Sound Therapy


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Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine by Liz Swain

Definition

Sound Therapy refers to a range of therapies in which sound is used to treat physical and mental conditions. One of these therapies is Music Therapy , which can involve a person listening to music for conditions such as Stress and muscle Tension.

Music is one component of this therapy. Others use sound wave vibrations to treat physical and mental conditions. In general, this therapy is based on the theory that all of life vibrates, including people’s bodies. When a person’s healthy resonant frequency is out of balance, physical and emotional health is affected.

Treatment by Sound Waves is believed to restore that healthy balance to the body. Healing is done by transmitting beneficial sound to the affected area. The healing sound may be produced by a voice or an instrument such as electronic equipment, chanting bowls, or Tuning Forks.
Origins

Indigenous societies around the world have traditionally used sound in healing ceremonies, including drumming, hand-clapping, singing, dancing, and pulsating. The broad spectrum of Sound Therapy includes chanting, an activity long connected to healing and religion, and sounds of nature. Different sounds have elicited a variety of emotional responses and altered mental and physical states in people.

For example, the chimes of a church bell pealed during a happy time and tolled slowly to announce a death. The connection between sound and healing was chronicled in 1896 when American physicians discovered that certain music improved thought processes and spurred blood flow. More advances in Sound Therapy came after World War II. Music Therapy began in the 1940s, when it was used as part of rehabilitation treatment for soldiers.

During the 1950s and 1960s, sound wave therapy developed in Europe. British osteopath Peter Manners developed a machine to treat patients with healing vibrations. The machine is placed on the area to be treated and a frequency is set to match the cells of a healthy body. Advocates believe that the treatment makes the body’s cells vibrate at a healthy Resonance.

By the 1990s, Manners had developed a computerized system with about 800 frequencies used to treat a range of conditions. Similar therapies are also known by names such as bioresonance and vibrational therapy. This therapy is used to treat conditions such as cancer.

After Manners developed cymatics, two ear specialists in France developed therapies that focus on listening. Dr. Alfred Tomatis’ Tomatis method and Dr. Guy Berard’s auditory integration training involve the patient listening to sounds through headphones. Currently, the Tomatis method is used to treat conditions ranging from learning disabilities to anxiety in both children and adults.

From the 1960s on, interest in Alternative Medicine and New Age healing has led to a wide variety of Sound Healing therapies. These range from the ancient practice of chanting and the use of singing bowls to vibro-acoustic furniture. A person sits or lies on a chair or bed and music is directed into the body. Benefits are said to include lowered blood pressure.
Benefits

Sound therapy focuses on balancing energy to treat a condition. Advocates maintain that sound therapy is effective in treating conditions such as Stress, anxiety, High Blood Pressure, depression, and Autism. Chanting and, overtone chanting are used in therapy with Alzheimer’s patients. Therapy is said to help with memory function.

Physical conditions treated by sound therapy include pain during labor, muscle and joint pain like Arthritis, back pain, sports injuries, soft tissue damage, and cancer.

The Tomatis method is used for conditions including dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Down syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome , Autism, depression, and behavioral problems. The method, also known as listening therapy, is used to help older people with coordination and motor problems. Furthermore, performers take the therapy to refine their skills.
Description

The spectrum of sound therapy is so broad that a person has many choices about the type of treatment and its cost. Some therapies can be done at home; others require a practitioner or therapist to perform the therapy or to provide initial instruction. As of June 2000, most health plans did not cover the cost of any form of sound therapy, including Music Therapy. However, some sound therapies may be part of integrative treatment for a condition.
Chanting and toning

Chanting and toning are among the complementary therapies offered through the integrative medicine program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The program, opened in April 1999, is one example of how the traditional medical community is incorporating alternative therapies into treatment.

People learn to reach a meditative state by producing a “pure” sound such as a drawn-out vowel. The chanting is said to produce a state of well-being in mind and body. The cost of therapy will vary since a person could take a class or workshop or opt for longer therapy. Treatment could involve weekly hour-long sessions over a period of several months.

Toning refers to using the voice to let out pain or Stress. Sound healers point out that people do this naturally when they cry out or sigh. In toning therapy, a healer will help the patient learn healing sounds. Overtoning involves the therapist using his or her voice to assess a client’s condition from the feet to the head. The therapist then treats the person by projecting healing sounds or “overtones.”

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