Music therapy is the clinical, evidenced-base use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.
The unique qualities of music therapy make it a particularly appropriate treatment modality for patients in hospice care. By its nature, music lends itself to human connection, comfort, and positive associations. Music therapy can be used to reduce discomfort, calm agitation, improve mood, induce relaxation, and offset the effects of isolation. It provides opportunities for socialization, sensory stimulation, life review, and normalized interactions with family members, and can even help ease the transition during the last moments of the client's life.
Hospice music therapy approaches vary depending upon the patient's needs in the moment. Interventions may include songwriting to leave a legacy for loved ones, singing religious songs together to affirm the patient's hope, or using quiet music to assist relaxation. The therapist might facilitate a sing-along of favorite songs with the patient and family, use rhythm instruments to elicit responses from a withdrawn individual, or play preferred music at the bedside of a patient who is no longer able to respond. Providing comfort measures, enhancing quality of life, and supporting the patient and loved ones through the end-of-life-process are central objectives to hospice music therapy practice.