Music is an ancient tool of healing that was recognized in the writings of the Greek philosophers Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Plato. The modern discipline of music therapy began early in the 20th Century with community musicians visiting veterans' hospitals around the country to play for those suffering from the traumas of war. Patients' responses led to the hiring of musicians by hospitals. Music is used to influence physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being and improve quality of life for healthy people as well as those who are disabled or ill. It may involve either listening to or performing music, with or without the presence of a music therapist. Music therapists are professionally trained to design specialized applications of music according to an individual's needs using improvisation, receptive listening, song writing, lyric discussion, imagery, performance, or learning through music. Sessions can be designed for individuals or groups based on the specific needs of the participants. Infants, children, adolescents, adults, the elderly and even animals can all potentially benefit from music therapy. Music therapists work in psychiatric hospitals, prisons, rehabilitative facilities, medical hospitals, outpatient clinics, day treatment centers, agencies serving developmentally disabled persons, community mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools, and private practice.
Art therapy became established as a mental health profession in the 1930s and is now practiced in hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centers, educational institutions, businesses, and private practices. It involves the application of a variety of art modalities including drawing, painting, clay, and sculpture. Art therapy enables the expression of inner thoughts or feelings when verbalization is difficult or not possible. The aesthetic aspect of the creation of art is thought to lift one's mood, boost self-awareness, and improve self-esteem. Art therapy also allows the opportunity to exercise the eyes and hands, improve eye-hand coordination, and stimulate neurological pathways from the brain to the hands. Art therapy is commonly used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems; substance abuse and addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; and coping with disability or medical illness. Art therapy may aid in stress reduction and relaxation. Art therapy may aid in both the assessment of problems and their treatment. Art therapy may take place individually with an art therapist or in a group setting. It may be conducted as a single session or as a series of sessions. The creation of art is itself considered therapeutic as a form of self-expression. However, the formal use of art therapy usually involves discussion and interpretation of the meaning of what the person has created with an art therapist, and possibly with peers in a group situation. Such discussion may foster helpful insights into what the work might reveal about the person's life, goals, aspirations, feelings, or needs.