The traditional hospice team includes healthcare professionals from numerous disciplines, volunteers, and complementary therapists who provide supportive care and comfort through natural approaches. One of these approaches is using music therapy in hospice care.
By definition, music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music by a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) to meet individuals’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. In practice, music therapy in hospice has been shown to accomplish a number of goals, including the following:
Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things. Tom Petty
The above-mentioned hospice care goals are accomplished in music therapy through the relationships that develop between the patient/family, the music therapist and the music. Music therapy at Samaritan Hospice weaves together each patient/family’s individual goals and objectives with their unique personal music history and preferences, designing a course of therapy which utilizes primarily live music (including guitar, piano, voice, and/or various percussion instruments) as well as receptive/listening-based interventions during music therapy sessions. Music therapy experiences within hospice care may include any of the following:
(pictured) Although her illness relegated her body nearly immobile throughout her hospice stay, during every music therapy session up until the week that she died, Karen would sing and do slow, but certain, signature Supreme’s dance moves to her favorite Motown songs. She is pictured here with Samaritan RN and fellow “Supreme’s dancer,” Roni Mongtomery, “stopping in the name of love” during a music therapy session. Karen’s love for actively engaging in music and her zest for life truly transcended her disease.
Please check with your hospice team to find out if you or your loved one is eligible for music therapy. Music therapy is offered in select hospice care locations.
Sara Joy Kuhlen, MA, MT-BC received her bachelor’s degree in music therapy from Mansfield University in 2005, and master’s in creative arts therapies (music concentration) from Drexel University in 2013. She has worked in correctional mental health for over a decade in the state prison system, completed a graduate level internship at A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children, and has been with Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice since June 2018.
Sara particularly enjoys learning about how music has touched the lives of her patients and their family members, and singing songs that have been particularly meaningful for them. She feels especially honored to be welcomed into the homes and residences of her patients at such a vulnerable time. In her personal life, Sara is passionate about utilizing music and sound for wellness, and plays crystal singing bowls during group meditations. She also enjoys making up silly songs with her two young children.