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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