Anci Sandell: With Music We Care!

After 35 years as a music therapist, Anci Sandell can now present research findings showing that the therapy methods she uses, increases quality of life for people who are being treated for severe medical or psychosocial conditions. On February 22, she will defend her doctoral thesis “Musik för kropp och själ – Modell för interaktiv musikterapi” (“Music for Body and Soul – Model for Interactive Music Therapy”) at the Nordic School of Public Health NHV. The defence will be held in Swedish. It has previously been established within the research community that music and song can lead to reduced levels of stress hormones in children and that stroke patients often find it easier to express themselves through song rather than speech, as well as the fact that music with a clear pulse facilitates movement for patients with Parkinson’s disease. New research findings now show that a methodical use of music for treatment purposes can serve as a soothing function in severe medical treatments and also have an identity-strengthening function in youths with severe psychosocial problems. Anci Sandell has investigated the effects of music therapy within patients undergoing hospital treatment for psychiatric dysfunction, cancer or dialysis. She has also studied the impact of the therapy on cancer-stricken small children and on youths with severe psychosocial problems. The music therapy has been integrated into the other treatment and has taken place in close interaction between the therapist and the patient. The therapy has been individually adapted and contained both pre-recorded and improvised music, but there have also been elements of painted pictures and texts. The studies confirmed the music therapy’s positive effects on perceived quality of life, and gave valuable knowledge regarding how the therapy needs to be adapted to each respective target group. Based on the research findings, therapy can be structured and adapted better to various target groups in the future and also to the needs of the individual patient or client.”It is not surprising that music therapy has proved to have such positive effects. Music can lower the pulse, the blood pressure, and the levels of stress hormones, as well as improve breathing”, Anci Sandell explains. “Music has been used as a healing power since antiquity, but it is an underused treatment method in modern care. I hope that my research findings will contribute to music therapy having a more significant role in the future.”