Where should I get (music) health information?

Do you ever feel ill and wonder if you should go to the doctor or self treat? Do you every wonder if what you are feeling is a normal emotion? Is it safe to look for an answer on the internet? Do you ever wonder if there is a need for seeing a music therapist or not?

What do I do? When I am sick, I go to the doctor to get a diagnosis and a course of treatment. My teeth are regularly checked and treated as needed by my dentist. Annually, I go to the optometrist to be sure my corrective lenses are still the proper strength.

Yet, there are times I do seek information and options for treatment on-line. There are times I want to hear from others with a diagnosis similar to mine – what have they experiences, or tried, or found helpful. I sometimes look for ways to treat things without immediately running to the doctor or dentist – like a canker sore. Or, I want to explore view on various diets (e.g. – an anti-inflammation diet, a Mediterranean diet) and compare their pros and cons, ease of preparation.

As a music therapist I also have a professionally stake in this. I want to be sure a board certified music therapist is providing treatment if someone states they are receiving music therapy. Yet, there are times people just want to use music for relaxing and don’t require music therapy services. I’m okay with that, too.

With the rise of the Internet, medical professionals have wondered if you are consulting them or the web.  A couple of recent tweets caught my eye and provided me a resource.

So, when do consumers ask for professional opinion and when do they look to the internet? A  2010 telephone study set out to see how the internet has affected people looking for health care information. The results were published by PEW. (1)  Here are a few highlights.

  • This study showed 80% of internet users (or 59% of all adults) have looked on-line for information about health topics including specific diseases or treatments.
  • Social sites are most used by caregivers for encouragement and care. 44% of caregivers reported finding helpful resources.
  • A vast majority of those living with chronic conditions never attend face-to-face support groups. Rather they connect with family members, friends, colleagues, fellow patients, and fellow caregivers using email and social network sites. 10% of those living with two or more chronic conditions say they find helpful information.
  • 3% of adults reported harm from on-line medical advice.

The key information for me was when the professional and non-professional opinions were valued.

A professional opinion most helpful when they :

  • Require an accurate diagnosis;
  • Desire information on prescription drugs;
  • Want recommendations of a doctor, specialist or medical facility.

A non-professional opinion was most helpful when they:

  • Desired emotional support in dealing with health issues;
  • Were seeking a quick remedy to an everyday health issue.

Professional and non professionals were viewed about equal providing practical advice on coping with an illness.

So how do you find out if you could benefit from music therapy?

First locate a qualified music therapist through the American Music Therapy Association or the Certification Board for Music Therapy. Next request a consultation. This allows you an opportunity to meet the music therapist, ask questions, share your desired goals. If both you and the music therapist agree that you or your loved one could benefit from services, an assessment will be scheduled.

Being able to play an instrument or read music is not necessary in order for you to benefit from music therapy. Rather, music is used to address social, emotional, physical or mental health needs of an individual. Needs and strengths are assessed to identify the appropriate treatment which might include singing, listening, moving, and/or creating music. Music therapy services may not always be appropriate. Even in these cases, the music therapist may be able to recommend the most appropriate ways for incorporating music into the life and treatment of the individual.

What music health information would you find beneficial when searching the web?

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  • Dan

    Great information JoAnn!

    I know I usually try to comb through the internet a bit before I consult with a doc – it’s just easier to get quick info that way, unfortunately, it’s easy to get BAD info too. You’ve got to be a critical consumer of information before you start fully investing in what you find on the web – and it’s always helpful to get the opinion of a professional!

    • Jordan JoAnn

      And, it is also important to be an informed consumer. Knowing what questions to ask, what issues might arise is helpful information. We need professionals to help diagnosis, inform us, and properly treat us.

  • Linda Esposito

    I’ve had so many clients come to me with an internet-based anxiety disorder, usually panic.

    While it’s a good idea to be informed, the internet will not screen you, and you’re probably misreading a few dx categories, yourself! Nothing replaces a professional’s opinion and tx. If the internet had such valuable info, we’d all be out of a job, right?

    For music “therapy,” I consult with iTunes :).
    Linda Esposito recently posted..The Head Case Against Mental HealthMy Profile

    • Jordan JoAnn

      It is my hope, Linda, that we come up with better tools to assist people in determining when to get assistance. Web-MD & a few other sites have some nice screening tools. My guess is we need more of those. Also, having correct information available is so important. That is why professionals need to be on the web.

  • Susan Giurleo

    Joann, great info! I’d love to hear more on how music therapy works and what will happen if I,or a loved one, engage in music therapy. Even as the daughter of 2 music educators, and a therapist myself, I still don’t feel that I know enough about music therapy.
    Susan Giurleo recently posted..Transition, Change and Progress: This Sh** is HardMy Profile

  • Born27

    Hi JoAnn,
    Music is the best alternative medication for stress and anxiety. I always listen to music whenever I feel so down or sometimes I feel that “this is not me” moments. During those times that I feel so mad about someone or to something. Music is my medicine.
    Born27 recently posted..Teleconference PhonesMy Profile

    • Jordan JoAnn

      Music is powerful. Sometimes we can find the correct way to access our emotions or express them with music. But, just like other therapies and medical approaches, a professional is needed. Music therapy is an evidenced based practice. I invite you to vist the American Music Therapy Association to learn more.

  • Rachelle Norman

    I think you pointed out two major facts: you can’t replace health care professionals with the internet, and people are using the internet anyway. I think that’s why it’s important for us to be on the web – to help us teach people when it’s important to seek help from a professional and when self-help or self-care methods might suffice.
    Rachelle Norman recently posted..Take Off the Pressure: 7 Creative Experiences to Try with Your Loved One with DementiaMy Profile

    • Jordan JoAnn

      Rachelle, I agree with you. And, your site is doing a lot in that area – providing information on when caregivers need a music therapist and when they can self-help with music.

  • Ann Becker-Schutte


    As Rachelle and others have noted, both the fact that the internet doesn’t replace medical or mental health training AND the fact that people use the internet for information and support about health concerns are true. I think that our job as health professionals is to try to work with that truth and help our patients have access to the best possible information–online and off.

    Ann Becker-Schutte recently posted..The Fear Factor: Tips for CopingMy Profile

    • Jordan JoAnn

      Ann – We are in agreement – the internet is accessed for information and doesn’t replace trained professionals. What ways do you see us better assisting clients in accessing the information they need both off and online?

    • Jordan JoAnn

      You are welcome, Heidi. What more would you like to know about the power of music?

  • Lisa Fields

    I’m honored you chose to share Our interactions with Susannah Fox~@suzannhahfox.
    I think one of the most important benefits of social media and health information is the opportunity to engage and develop relationships with various health care providers, patients, patient advocates, caregivers, etc. When we engage with those we trust the amount of learning we gather is tremendous.

    My Twitter Friend Gloria @Grandmaondeck recently tweeted “When I was young and I didn’t know something I was embarrassed. Now when somebody knows something I don’t know I say G8 You can be my teacher.

    I have a dear friend, 92 who has gone from living in her own apartment in a retirement comity to being moved into assisted living room within a span of ten days. Her quality of life has decreased tremendously. Ann loves the movie and music from the Sound of Music. Would she be appropriate for the services of a music therapist? Are there government funds that could assist with the compensation of a music therapist?

    Thank you for being a cherished friend,


    • Jordan JoAnn

      There is so much to learn. Twitter has allowed me to connect with great people like you, Lisa. You help me access information and ideas I might not find on my own. Gloria is a gem. I enjoy following her.

      As for your 92 year old friend, it sounds like some big losses. It would be wonderful for a music therapist to be called in to assess her. Erring on the side of caution, I would guess there aren’t government funds to compensate for music therapy services. However, more music therapist are receiving insurance payments these days.

      It would be worth exploring whether a music therapist is providing services to her facility. If not, families and residents could recommend consideration of including music therapy.

      Please contact me if you want any recommendations for sharing music when you visit your friend, Lisa. You may not be a music therapist, but keeping the connection to the music loved by a person can be the job of all of us.

  • Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli)

    Ok – third time..if no, then no comment! kept getting captcha wrong!
    I love when ppl come in diagnosing themselves from the internet, saying their boyfriend will treat them…and wanting me to confirm the diagnosis & tx…lol. I think to myself, well, good luck with your controlling bf, and see you soon when it doesnt work out!
    love to know more abt music therapy and doncha know in my care, I sound like Mariah Carey!
    Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli) recently posted..Bullied as an Adult: Making Sense of Mean-ness ?My Profile

    • Jordan JoAnn

      Kathy – I’m sorry the captcha gave you fits. Good to see your comment made it through. Hopefully, people will become more balanced in their professional treatment and self treatment. As for your interest in music therapy, what would you like to know about?

  • Arlene Johnson

    You provide great conversation about the use of the internet for health information. It is a great service that you are providing. I think one way to help people receive accurate information online is to provide good links. It would be good if assisted living and hospitals would include in their assessments the type of music that people enjoy. Music can go along way in the healing process and assist with adjustment to a change to assisted living.

    • Jordan JoAnn

      Quality online links are very helpful, Arlene. I think you will currently find a lot of variety in assisted living and nursing home assessments. When I was serving as activity director in these settings, I tended to ask detailed questions about music. There is an increased emphasis on individualized care in these settings, so more detailed intakes are likely coming. Part of the challenge is resident’s are often so overwhelmed by all the intake information they are sharing. Gathering this information as you go through life can be helpful.