Pia Teckenberg-Jansson

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Music therapist

Pia Teckenberg-Jansson earned her degree in music therapy in Berlin, at Musiktherapeutische  Arbeitsstätte (a school for professional music therapists). She works as a music therapist in various nursing homes and is the head of a research group that studies possibilities to use music therapy in the care of hospitalized women with pregnancy complications. We met with her and asked the following questions:

What is music therapy, and how can music affect people in a beneficial manner?

Every disease is a sign that a person’s body is, in some way, either physically or psychologically out of balance. Since physical and mental well-being are dependent upon one another, it is evident that a physical illness will affect a person’s mental state. Music speaks to a person’s soul and can, therefore, be an effective influence. Music therapy is a form of treatment and rehabilitation in which music is used as both an instrument and a mediator, either actively or passively. Music’s therapeutic effect is born when the therapist and the patient meet in a situation in which the therapist attempts to create contact with the patient through the aid of, for example, song, tones, melodies, scales, and harmonies. By steadying and supporting the patient in this manner, therapists can begin to join their patients in a search for harmony and mental balance. Music relaxes patients, lessens their pain, and also offers strength and consolation. Through music, it is possible to awaken people’s own physical, mental, and spiritual resources and help them understand and accept their possible illness or the situation that they are in. Music therapy can even lead people to a greater or deeper knowledge of themselves. During therapy, lively, acoustic music is played. Music therapy is used, for example, in cases of pregnancy complications and premature births, with the mentally or physically handicapped, and in palliative care. It can also be used in cases of cancer, heart disease, depression, or dementia, and as a means with which to create an overall feeling of well-being.  Music therapy is suitable for use with both the young and the old, and it does not require any special musical skill or knowledge.

Where and how did you train yourself to be a music therapist?

The Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation awarded me a grant that enabled me to go to Berlin and study at Musiktherapeutische Arbeitsstätte. The programme lasted 4 years, and, in 2004, I graduated as a music therapist. My education included, for example, both familiarizing myself with, and learning to play, the instruments generally used in music therapy and training to be a therapist, which covered such areas as self-knowledge and the recognition of a person’s mental and physical essence. I also studied such subjects as anatomy, the recognition of various illnesses, psychology, and anthroposophy, including man’s holistic essence. There was also practice training in various clinics, for which written reports were required.

Who are your patients?

A music therapist’s patients can be premature babies, children, teenagers, adults, or the elderly. The people who benefit from music therapy are those with acute or chronic physical or mental illnesses or social problems. Only those with a high fever or an acute psychosis are not recommended for such treatment. Too, music therapy in palliative care is its own special field. I myself work with the elderly and with patients with dementia; I also offer resonance therapy and provide music therapy in cases of palliative care. In addition, I am currently carrying out a study on the effects of music therapy on women with pregnancy complications.

What have been the topics of your research?

In 2006–2007, The Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation awarded me a grant that permitted me to study the effects of music therapy on premature babies. I played a pentatonic children’s lyre and hummed to babies who were receiving what is called “kangaroo care” (children being held skin-to-skin in their mother’s or father’s arms). The study showed that music therapy helped to notably reduce the children’s blood pressure, and it also had a considerable calming effect on their heart rate and breathing. In addition, the parents reported that the therapy helped both them and their children to relax. Currently, I am studying the effect of music therapy on the physical and mental well-being of women hospitalized for pregnancy complications. In this therapy, I play a pentatonic children’s lyre either over the top of the woman’s stomach or at her side. In addition, I play a resonating instrument, a tao-lyre, which can be positioned at an expectant mother’s legs or at her back. The purpose of the resonating instrument is to calm and relax the mother, and also to create an opportunity for the mother to strengthen and activate her body using her body’s own resources.