Virtually every culture on our planet is tied to music. It is a unifying element between humans— like an emotional connection inherently shared amongst all of us. At Florida Hospital, we’ve seen how music can be both an extension and a catalyst of emotion. With its proven effectiveness in medical treatment of stress, depression, surgical sedation, pain management and more, our music therapists harness the power of song to aid patients in the healing process.
Medical music therapy uses live music in order to address a variety of goals and to help enhance a patient’s quality of life. Music therapists design individualized music sessions to assess, treat, and evaluate patients. The patient objectives are specific to medical diagnosis, course of treatment, and discharge time line. Progress is documented in medical terms, not musical terms. Goals that music therapists address in sessions include, but are not limited to:
- Anxiety and stress reduction
- Increasing coping skills
- Decreasing depression
- Elevating mood
- Nonpharmacological pain management
- Cognitive and sensory stimulation
- Increasing comfort care
- Increasing emotional support
- Increasing communication and socialization
- Eliminating of sedation for procedures
- Normalizing environments
- Increasing reality orientation
Who can benefit from medical music therapy?
Music therapy services are available to any patient at Florida Hospital Orlando. Most referrals are made by clinicians, but patients and family members can request services as well. Clinical staff that can make referrals include: MD, ARNP, RN, LPN, SW, PT, ST, OT, CNA, CCLS, and Chaplain. Patients that may benefit the most from music therapy services are those experiencing:
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of stimulation
- Extended hospitalization
- Difficult or lengthy labor
- Problems communicating
- End of life
What does a medical music therapist do?
Music therapists use live music and personal interaction to produce positive changes in an individual or group. A variety of music and techniques are used to achieve goals set for each patient. Sessions are modified to best meet the needs of the patient. The most common and effective music therapy techniques that are used include:
- Instrument playing
- Song writing
- Lyric analysis
- Successive approximation
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Guided imagery
- Music as distraction
- Music as reinforcement
- Music for counseling/coping
- Word recall while singing
- Movement to music
What does music therapy look like?
Observing a music therapy session, one would see the music therapist providing live music requested by the patient. The music therapist would most likely be singing and accompanying with the guitar, but could also be playing piano, Q-chord, autoharp, or other accompaniment instrument. The patient could be singing with the music therapist, playing a variety of rhythm instruments, or just listening. Families and other visitors are encouraged to participate in the session, so one may see a group of people participating in the music with the patient. Music therapists also lead group sessions, so one could see the therapists working with a group of patients with similar goals.
Who can be a music therapist?
To become a music therapist, an individual must have completed a Bachelor’s degree (or Master’s equivalency) in music therapy from an accredited university. Music therapists are also required to complete an internship of at least 900 clinical hours before sitting for the national board certification exam given by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Once the exam is passed, music therapists acquire the credentials MT-BC (Music Therapist-Board Certified).
Music Therapists can choose to further their education and complete specialized training to become certified in specific areas. Common additional credentials a music therapist can acquire include:
- NICU MT: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Music Therapists
- NMT: Neurologic Music Therapist