A course by Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) and Qatar Music Academy (QMA) has taught healthcare professionals how to use music therapy to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, autism, Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, and stroke.

The course, which was made up of ten online modules and four practical workshops held at QMA, used evidence-based sources to explain how music causes physiological changes in the listener and how this effect can be used therapeutically in clinical scenarios.

WCM-Q music therapy course 1

The course covered topics such as music therapy for people with special needs, history of music therapy in the Middle East and the West, how to tailor music therapy approaches to individual patients, and the theory and practice of neurologic music therapy.

The workshops were led by Dr Ghizlane Bendriss from WCM-Q; qanun instructor and music therapist Rula El Barghouthi; and Abdalla Mhoul, oud and voice instructor at QMA.

In the final workshop, the group discussed breathing and singing techniques before taking part in a drum circle and analysing the activity’s physiological and cognitive effects.

According to Dr Bendriss research has demonstrated conclusively that music therapy approaches can be extremely effective at treating an extremely wide range of conditions, particularly neurological conditions. Despite the MENA region having a rich musical culture, music therapy is not widely practiced in the region. With this certificate programme, Dr Bendriss said they aim to equip local healthcare professionals with skills and knowledge so that they can use music therapy to help their patients.

The online modules of the course provided participants with a foundation of knowledge in the anatomy of the brain and nervous system, basic music theory, music therapy for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, stress, depression and pain management, music therapy in the Middle East, medical ethics, and instructions on how to refer, assess and write reports for patients undergoing music therapy.

Taoufik Mirkhan, Head of the Arabic Music Department at QMA, said that music therapy is a wonderfully powerful but underused tool that has great potential to help enhance the wellness of people all over the Middle East and beyond.

The course, titled Certificate in the Fundamentals of Music Therapy, was accredited by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).