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Music therapy in palliative care 

Music therapy in palliative care
Music therapy in palliative care

Clare O’Callaghan

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date: 16 May 2022

Music therapists are university-trained professionals who invite palliative care patients, and their significant family members and friends, to explore how creative music-based experiences in therapeutic relationships can address biopsychosocial needs and enhance spiritual well-being. The chapter illustrates how music therapists can extend music’s power to help patients across the lifespan live a quality life and support their families. Patients often choose familiar music to listen to, sing, or play that elicits people, places, emotions, and thoughts that they want to connect with. Through music therapy song writing and improvisation, patients and families creatively explore their ‘playful’ musical and unique selves, and potentially experience helpful new awareness, wonder, pride, and accomplishment. Patients’ song composition legacies can also support the bereaved. Music therapists offer guided music and relaxation or imagery interventions, to soothe and help with symptom management. Extensive quantitative and qualitative research informing music therapy is also outlined and music-based care suggestions are provided for when music therapists are not available.

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