Last winter, I wrote a post on my own site entitled A Case study for hospital-based music therapy, in which I described the progress a client made using music therapy alongside her OT and PT sessions.
I’ve been working at the hospital for a few years now, and most of the staff have seen the benefits of music therapy enough that they’re sending appropriate referrals. I still get the occasional, “Are you coming to entertain us?” in the elevator while wearing my guitar, but I tend to laugh that off now. It takes a lot of education to create support for a ‘new’ (see: early 1900s) healthcare field. I understand the caution around alternative treatments, but music therapy in particular is an integrative field. It doesn’t replace traditional medicine, and music therapists co-treat. If we add music to a PT session, we don’t get in the way, and if we facilitate a music therapy-only session, we work on the same goals so that generalization of skills takes place.
Integrative medicine improves the hospital experience for patients, often getting them home sooner and with less medication- thereby saving money. With music therapy, we can address physical goals (e.g. crossing midline), cognitive goals (e.g. speech), emotional goals (e.g. self-esteem) and social goals (e.g. communicating with staff).
I’m glad that understanding and support of music therapy is growing, especially in my home state of Maine. Unfortunately, it seems there is a long way to go in the way of collaborative patient care. I hope one day there will be a music therapist or integrative medicine provider on every patient’s care team! Until then, I’ll keep laughing in the elevator on my way to make music with a client. Sessions like these keep me inspired, and I hope they’ll inspire more healthcare providers to consider integrative medicine.