Music Therapy – What is it and How to Get it in Pakistan?


William Shakespeare stated “The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds is fit for treasons, strategems and spoils.”

For Shakespeare music was the aesthetic embodiment of world harmony and he thusly expressed it in the finale of the Merchant of Venice where his harboured philosophy is brought to light. In translation to his notion – to deny music is to deviate from human nature.

Music is said to influence the process of thinking and learning. Music may help you think better, analyze matters faster, and work more efficiently. It also promotes a more positive mood and attitude to its listeners and gives them an overall sense of motivation. I think I can state all this with a certain amount of confidence and experience. The question which may be raised is that can music be used to help cure or rehabilitate someone? Evidently so.

Music therapy is basically an interpersonal process through which the therapist employs music and all of its facets-physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic and spiritual to aid clients in either improving or maintaining their health. Interesting as it appears, what makes this form of therapy stand apart is its sole reliance on nothing but music. This form of therapy caters to all age groups and helps in healing or treating psychiatric disorders, medical problems, physical handicaps, sensory impairments, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, communication disorders, interpersonal problems, and aging. It is also used to facilitate individuals in the common problems faced such as to improve learning, build self-esteem, reduce stress, support physical exercise, and a throng of other health-related activities.

Now you must be wondering how these therapy sessions are held and what goes on during them. Every session involves the client in a musical revelation of sort. The primary ones are improvising, re-creating, composing, and listening to music. In the sessions which involve improvising, the client makes up his or her own music unrehearsed and unprepared, singing or playing whatever arises in the moment. Often the client is asked to improvise sound portraits of feelings, events, persons, or situations that are being explored in therapy. Re-creating sessions are what its name suggests. This kind of music experience may include learning how to produce vocal or instrumental sounds, imitating musical phrases, learning to sing by rote, using musical notation, participating in sing-alongs, practicing, taking music lessons, working out the musical interpretation of a composition and so forth. Composing sessions are those in which the client is aided in writing songs, music or instrumental pieces. A musical product is a form of release. Listening to music sessions involves listening to live or recorded music. The experience may highlight on physical, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, or spiritual aspects of the music, and the client may respond through activities such as: relaxation or meditation, structured or free movement, perceptual tasks, free-association, story-telling, imaging, reminiscing, drawing, and so forth.

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Music therapy has at present become an integral part of psychotherapy and medicine. It is considered a tried and tested therapeutic method that can be used in many ways. With the help of sound and rhythm, unconscious portions of our self can be accessed. Feelings and memories from traumatizing life experiences, as well as oppressive everyday experiences or persistent habits in dealing with other people, can be processed in music therapy.

Studies have shown that music triggers notable improvement in a student’s academic skills when they listen to certain types of music whilst studying. Some may disagree stating that the music would prove to be nothing but a distraction but we all will have to agree on the fact that listening to feel-good music while performing a challenging task can make the activity seem a whole lot easier and more manageable to accomplish. Oh yes! Nothing beats a lively tune blasting in your ears when doing something menial or just plain boring not to mention time consuming.

Studies suggest music also helps in the release of endorphins that aid in speeding up the body’s healing process:

  • It distracts the body from suffering and pain.
  • It simultaneously triggers certain chemical activities that promote healing.

Listening to soothing and pleasant music creates a positive impact on the mental and physical well-being of its listeners. Research suggests that the silence in between two musical notes can trigger the neurons and brain cells which are required for sharp memory. Music from flute, sarod, and santoor, are ideal for the improvement of memory and concentration. Music with stronger beats causes brain waves to resonate in such a way that is in sync with the music. This brings about higher levels of alertness.

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Clinical Psychologist Qudsia Mehmood believes that while music therapy can do wonders for the nervous system and the body in general, the majority of Pakistanis are unaware of this. For the first time in Pakistan, Music Therapy has been initiated by Mr. Sohail Khan a qualified music therapist from UK and USA. He has done his CMT from University of London UK and BMGIM advance level from USA. Mr. Sohail Khan has launched a Music Therapy Center in Karachi, Pakistan. He has already launched a project in the field of education, “The Prism Project, A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Music in Education”. Their aim is to use different approaches of music in education and also to introduce music therapy in schools. To state his thoughts in his own words he declares on his LinkedIn page, “I am the first and only music therapist of Pakistan. My aim is to start music therapy institute in Pakistan where I can start training people to use this effective medium to help Pakistani community.” Only time will tell if Mr. Sohail achieves his goal and garners the required attention and support without upsetting any extremists along the way!

Music can be a soothing solitary activity or fun social event bringing people together. It is food for the soul and spiritual healing. To end in the words of Plato, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

You can visit Music Therapy Center’s Facebook Page or contact them at 0345-3179727 or send an email at mtc.musictherapy(at) They are located in Block 2 Clifton, Karachi. 

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