The potential for music therapy to improve patient health and well-being were explored at a continuing medical education workshop held at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q). The workshop featured lectures by expert speakers who gave a brief history of music therapy, discussed the effect of music on the brain, and described the application of music therapy interventions in clinical practice.

Attendees also took part in an interactive workshop to learn how music therapy can be an effective treatment intervention to help clients deal with trauma and chronic illness, and how playing music or musical instruments can provide psychological relief and an inner resource for people to positively confront their ongoing illness.

One of the expert speakers at the event, Dr Aicha Hind Rifai, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, discussed music therapy in clinical practice.

Music therapy is currently a scientifically-approved treatment for the following conditions: depression with anxiety; Parkinson’s disease to treat gait, speech and swallowing problems; schizophrenia to decrease hallucinations, delusions and apathy, and to improve mood, cognition and quality of life; and finally for sleep problems. Patients suffering from any of these conditions should be routinely referred for music therapy either as a main treatment or in addition to the standard medical treatment they are receiving.’

She added that although music therapy is of benefit in cases of autism and in end of life care, more systematic studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of the treatment to clarify which type of intervention works for each disease.

The symposium, titled Music Therapy and Healing, was part of WCM-Q’s ongoing Lives in Medicine series, which explores interactions between art, medicine and healing. Previous events have already examined medicine and visual arts, the medical humanities, and narrative medicine.

The event also featured Dr Waseem Kotoub, a Professional Concert Pianist, Composer and Medical Doctor. Dr Kotoub, who trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London, has used music therapy with autistic children to aid the development of communication skills. He also established what is believed to be the first music therapy centre in the MENA region. He gave a joint presentation about the history of music therapy alongside Dr Alan Weber, a visiting professor.

The event was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).

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