Role of Didgeridoo as Part of Music Therapy Intervention to Enhance a Sense of Achievement and Self-Control

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Image of Medical Music Therapy Master's student Sarang Jin

The didgeridoo, rooted in ancient Aboriginal Australia, is not merely an instrument. While playing the didgeridoo may seem like a challenge, its therapeutic potential isn’t confined solely to its active play. Even perceptual listening possesses intrinsic therapeutic properties.

At its therapeutic core, the didgeridoo engages the respiratory system with its distinct low frequency, vibrations, and the entrainment phenomenon. By guiding breath through this instrument, participants can significantly amplify their lung capacity, self-control, and offer emotional regulation — attributes that have shown marked benefits for alcohol use disorder patients in psychiatric care.

However, the instrument influences not only physical but also emotional regulation such as anxiety and stress. Interestingly, the advantages aren’t solely for those who play. Those who only listen to the sound, especially when coupled with guided breathing exercises, can lead to the phenomenon of entrainment. This facilitates rhythmic breathing patterns and offers an effective distraction from pain.

The therapist attempts to integrate the didgeridoo into diverse hospital settings such as NICU, Pulmonary, CTVS, Psychiatry, and OBGYN.

This presentation will describe the sessions conducted in the Psychiatry ward of a tertiary hospital in the southern part of India with a patient diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder(AUD). The client had issues with declining drinking when offered. The aim of the session was to help him regulate the length of his breath through his own will, stabilize his emotional state, and enhance his assertiveness by playing the didgeridoo.

Given the potential of a heightened arousal state induced by the didgeridoo, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) was introduced into the therapeutic sessions. PMR is pivotal when paired with the didgeridoo. As this instrument accentuates one’s physiological and emotional awareness, PMR serves to harness this heightened consciousness, fostering a profound mind-body connection. Furthermore, it ensures the stabilization of vital signs, granting a balanced therapeutic experience. This symbiotic relationship between the didgeridoo and PMR augments the therapeutic arsenal of the music therapy realm, making the didgeridoo’s integration relevant even for those who might not wish or be equipped to actively engage with the instrument.

Over a period of six sessions, he began to lead the session since it was a structured procedure. He remained calm and relaxed but expressed his opinion clearly. His progress can be observed through a video.

Learner Objectives

1) Identify client’s mood and affect
2) Identify client’s social and interpersonal relationships
3) Consider the following in the treatment decision-making
process: b. research evidence of the effectiveness of
the intervention.
4) Structure and organize music therapy experiences
within each session to create therapeutic contour (e.g.,
transitions, pacing, sequencing, energy level, intensity)
5) Provide individualized music therapy experiences to
address client’s: n. autonomy.

Presenter Biography

Sarang Jin, a final year medical Music therapy student has used the didgeridoo in psychiatry, Cardiology, ObGYN and pulmonary. Her thesis is use of Didgeridoo for clients with stress.