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Some Pain, Anxiety Sufferers Turn To Sound Therapy For Relief

Jodi Roberts of Plano incorporates gongs into the sound therapy she offers clients.
Courtesy Jodi Roberts
Jodi Roberts of Plano incorporates gongs into the sound therapy she offers clients.

Kris Sands struggled with fibromylagia for seven years. Doctors prescribed medication that treated the symptoms but not the problem. She looked into Pilates and yoga, but those weren’t the right fit either. Then she turned to something called sound therapy.

“I feel like a million bucks. I feel like I can fly. My symptoms are gone,” Sands said. “My body just resets because sound and energy, everything is a wave.”

Sound therapy uses low frequency tones — think gongs," target="_blank">Tibetan bowls, and electronic notes. Advocates claim it relieves ailments such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, insomnia and stress.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t recognize sound therapy as a medical treatment. And therapists who use the technique, such as Jodi Roberts of Plano, are careful not to call themselves medical professionals.

Some of these techniques have been around for centuries. Medicine men in ancient Egypt used chanting and drums. Music is a part of many Native American healing rituals.

In 1968 a Finnish scientist named Olav Skille conducted an experiment to understand the connection between sound and healing.

Skille tested what he called vibroacoustic therapy to measure the physiological and psychological effects of different frequencies on children and adults who had language difficulties, personality disorders, difficulty in motor functions or limited learning capacity. He concluded that sound has a direct physical effect on muscles and nerves.

Skille’s theory was that lower frequencies reduce the activity level of the sympathetic nervous system and improves blood circulation.

Fast forward to 2014. That’s when a pair of Italian scientists — David Muehsam and Carlo Ventura — did a study that concluded that some organs in the body such as the brain, heart, skin, eyes and bladder emit different frequencies.

Sound therapy in action

Roberts has been using sound techniques, including Tibetan bowls, for three decades.

“The music frequency of these bowls changes your brain-wave state. It gets you in your heart,” Roberts said.

Hidehiko Okamoto, a researcher in Japan, did a recent study on the connection between brain waves and sound waves.

The main instruments Roberts uses are" target="_blank">gongs," target="_blank">crystal bowls and Tibetan bowls. She has a music vibration table that clients lay on top of to get a full sound and frequency treatment.

Roberts starts each session with a “reading” of the client. She plays gongs of various sizes to detect how the body’s frequencies are reacting with the frequencies of the gong. Each gong correlates with a specific part of the body.

Jodi Roberts with two of her 9 gongs, sound therapy
Credit Courtesy of Jodi Roberts
Jodi Roberts with two of her 9 gongs.

After she finishes the reading, she recommends a treatment. It could be a session on her vibrating table. It could be a “gong bath” — where the client lies on the floor facing a row of gongs.

“Yes, there are people who think music used as healing is weird,” Roberts said.

She’s cautious about her terminology — because she’s not a medical professional, she can’t claim cures.

“I have to be careful because alternative healers are attacked if they are successful at anything that violates Big Pharma power,” Roberts said.

She says she hasn’t studied the possibility of a placebo effect.

When doubters confront her, she argues that the core of sound therapy is relaxation. Healing, she says, can progress from that relaxed state.

Then Roberts puts treatment in her clients’ hands.

“Take a real tool, walk out the door with it, use it and make your life better,” she said. “My bottom line is, teach people how to do it themselves when they walk out the door.”