Music Therapy

Music TherapyAbout Our Music Therapy Program

The music therapy program at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) was established in 1997 through pilot studies with adult and pediatric patients. In 2000, our first board-certified music therapist was hired and established consistent clinical services in Golisano Children's Hospital (GCH). In 2015, a second music therapist was hired to expand services to the pediatric intensive care units, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In 2022, EPAM supported a third music therapist for GCH, which allowed music therapy services to be available in all pediatric intensive care and inpatient units. The pediatric program serves over 1000 patients annually at no cost to patients. In addition, in 2022, EPAM welcomed our first music therapist dedicated to the adult population in Strong Memorial Hospital with plans to continue to grow the team of music therapists to meet the needs of all our patients at URMC.

Since 2002, our music therapy program has served as a clinical practicum and university-affiliated internship site for bachelor's and master's level students in an accredited music therapy program. As of 2023, 82 students have trained within our hospital to learn clinical skills in medical music therapy.

Music Therapy Services

Music therapists work with patients diagnosed with various acute and chronic illnesses. From birth to adulthood, they help individuals cope with and process their hospitalization through passive and active music listening or music creation. They may also provide procedural support for patients undergoing procedures.

Most music therapy sessions are provided one-on-one in the patient's room. Group sessions are also an option based on therapist availability, as appropriate to the unit. Families are encouraged to participate when they can and when appropriate. Sessions may also occur during outpatient visits, or in other areas of the hospital, depending on the availability of the music therapists and/or music therapy interns.

Patients and families can request music therapy services or are referred/consulted by a healthcare team member. The hospital is an ever-changing environment, and music therapists seek to reflect this in their care. Therefore, goals are adapted to each person's unique circumstances and abilities. The resulting music experiences are designed to facilitate changes that are non-musical. Specific treatment goals are determined based on patient and family input, feedback from the healthcare team, and the music therapist's assessment. These may include:

  • Assist with coping with hospitalization.
  • Increase self-esteem and offer opportunities for empowerment.
  • Assist with symptom management (i.e., decrease pain, nausea, and anxiety).
  • Promote mindfulness or relaxation.
  • Complement occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology goals by pairing musical interventions with movement or speech needs to improve or maintain current levels of functioning.
  • Facilitate growth and development through sensory stimulation (i.e., auditory, visual, vestibular, tactile).
  • Increase socialization or decrease isolation through either individual or group music therapy sessions, which provide opportunities for collaborative music-making.
  • Help process emotions about hospitalization or illness.

For more information on music therapy, visit the American Music Therapy Association website.

For more information on the Music Therapist-Board Certified credential, visit the Certification Board for Music Therapists website.

For more information on the Creative Arts Therapist License, visit the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions website.