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Music Therapy Can Help Patients Improve Emotional, Mental and Physical Health

Music therapy at University Hospitals Connor Whole Health offers patients a way to use music to communicate and to improve their physical and emotional well-being. Music therapy plans are tailored to each patient’s individual needs, helping them get the most out of each session.

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the use of music to address nonmusical goals, where a credentialed professional facilitates a professional relationship with staff, patients and/or their family members.

For more information, visit the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) website.

Benefits of Music Therapy

The music therapists at UH Connor Whole Health use a variety of music interventions to address patients’ specific needs after making an assessment. For example, a music therapist may:

  • Provide live soothing music and imagery to assist patients in managing pain
  • Assist patients in writing and recording a song to express thoughts and feelings
  • Provide music to help patients refocus during medical procedures
  • Engage patients in music therapy techniques to aid in physical or speech rehabilitation
  • Provide music therapy strategies to help patients manage stress during hospitalization

Music Therapy for Cancer Patients

Our board-certified music therapists offer music therapy services for patients with cancer and blood disorders through University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center. Offered in group and individual sessions, various music therapy techniques can be used to help patients deal with the pain, stress and anxiety of having a serious illness.

Music Therapy for Children

When a child needs to be hospitalized, it can be a scary time for both the child and his or her family. Our board-certified music therapists at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital provide a range of music therapy techniques specifically geared for children to help kids and families deal with the physical and emotional toll an illness or hospitalization can take.

Music Therapy at University Hospitals

Music Therapists at UH Seidman Cancer Center and University Hospitals Ahuja, Bedford, Cleveland, Elyria, Geauga, and Portage medical centers provide services in the following units:

  • Medical/Surgical Inpatient Units
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Behavioral Health Units
  • Intensive Outpatient Programming Units

The UH music therapy staff also actively provides in-services, presentations and demonstrations on the benefits of music therapy to our entire health system, at medical and educational conferences, in the community, throughout the country and abroad.

Our Healing Harmony Program offers opportunities to volunteer your musical talents to help others. Please contact us for more information.

Music Therapy Internship

UH Connor Whole Health’s music therapy program accepts applications for our music therapy internship year-round.

Learn More:

History of Music Therapy

Using music as a healing medium dates back to ancient times. This is evident in historical writings of ancient civilizations such as Egypt, China, India, Greece, and Rome. Today, the power of music remains the same, but music is used much differently than it was in ancient times.

The profession of music therapy in the United States began to develop during W.W.I and W.W. II, when music was used in Veterans Administration Hospitals as an intervention to address traumatic war injuries. Veterans actively and passively engaged in music interventions that focused on relieving pain perception. Numerous doctors and nurses witnessed the effect music had on veterans' psychological, physiological, cognitive, and emotional state. Since then, colleges and universities developed programs to train musicians how to use music for therapeutic purposes. The first degree program was developed at Michigan State in 1944.

Training of Music Therapists

Music therapists must earn a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy from an American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) approved program and have at minimum the entry level credential, MT-BC (Music Therapist, Board Certified). AMTA has specific curriculum requirements including courses in music, music therapy, biology, psychology, social and behavioral sciences and general studies (AMTA, 2013). There are over 70 undergraduate and over 30 graduate programs approved by the association across the nation. Upon completing the academic program at either the bachelor’s or master’s level, a 6-month internship is required at an AMTA approved clinical training site. Graduates must subsequently pass a comprehensive examination administered by an independent certifying body, the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), to earn the MT-BC credential which needs to be maintained by taking 100 continuing education hours in music therapy and in related fields every five years.

Music Therapy Research Highlights

Bradley Palmer J, Lane D, Mayo D, et al. Effects of music therapy on anesthesia requirements and anxiety in women undergoing ambulatory breast surgery for cancer diagnosis and treatment: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2015 Aug 17 pii: JCO.2014.59.6049 PubMed PMID: 26282640.

Gutgsell KJ, Schluchter M, Margevicus S, et al. Music therapy reduces pain in palliative care patients: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 2013 May: 45 (5): 822-31. PubMed PMID: 23107609.

Halwani G, Loui P, Ruber T, et al. Effects of practice and experience on the arcuate fasciculus: comparing singers, instrumentalists and non-musicians. Frontiers in Psychology, 2011 July 7: 2(156).

Wan, Catherine Y. and Schlaug, Gottfried. Music Making as a Tool for Promoting Brain Plasticity across the Life Span. In: The Neuroscientist, 2010: 16(5) 566-577.

Bittman B, Bruhn K, Stevens C, et al. Recreational music-making: a cost effective group interdisciplinary strategy for reducing burnout and improving mood states in long-term care workers. Advances, 2003 Fall/Winter: 19 (3/4).

Blood A, Zatorre R. Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion. PNAS, 2001 September 25: 98 (20) 11818-11823.