Music therapy program focuses on helping those in need

Angelica Rose plays the guitar in Music Therapy 360L on Sept. 29, 2022, in Northridge, Calif.

Derek Ortega, Reporter

Music therapy uses music to help treat those who are in need.

The benefits of music therapy, according to the Cleveland Clinic, include helping people with chronic pain, anxiety, fatigue and depression. Some use music therapy as a way to cope with substance use disorders. Music therapy can also help people improve their anxiety issues, motor skills, confidence and self-awareness.

Music therapists work in a variety of different places, such as hospitals, day cares, schools, senior apartments and hospice programs. According to Zippia, an online job-recruitment site, music therapists make $57,096 per year on average, or $27.45 per hour. The Certification Board for Music Therapists states that music therapists require recertification once every five years.

“As a music therapist, I will be helping many people through music therapy sessions, especially in the field of mental health. I may end up working with a wide variety of clients in order to assist them in reaching their therapeutic goals,” CSUN alumna Christine Patrikian said.

Students and faculty also gave their insights on why they chose music therapy as a major and a future career.

“Some clients that have more emotional needs with mental health, and that is the root of it; you need to help change their life around, using music as a mode of self-expression and creativity to help them build self-confidence,” CSUN student Michael Palma said when asked what made him want to study music therapy.

As some people have self-esteem issues, many music therapists help them build their confidence back with the music of their choice.

Music therapists also focus on social skills so they can help their patients get comfortable with social situations and come out of their comfort zone.

“I think the cool thing about music therapy or any therapy in general is that you have to work on social skills to interact with your therapists, so you can get the help you need. That’s one step closer for them to open up, to trust you emotionally when speaking to that other person,” CSUN student Lindsey Pfiffner said.

CSUN’s music therapy program was founded in 1984 by professor Ron Borczon, who retired in the spring of 2022. Hilary Yip now runs the program as the new director. Yip spoke about the program’s goals, which include making this major known on campus for students who may be interested in this academic field.

“I’ve been doing virtual sessions with cancer patients online. So with patients, they’re going to get chemotherapy, they’re getting diagnosed or getting checkups every couple of months to see if the cancer [is] still there,” Yip said. “So I’m using the music to help them.”