Session Story: Promoting Development Through Music Therapy

Music Therapy Joyful Melodies Development

Many of my clients and patients have developmental delays.  In the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I often get referrals for patients who have been born very prematurely, but have grown up and reached or passed their due date.  These patients often are already delayed or are at least at great risk for developmental delays, because the typical course of development that occurs when babies are born near their due dates is altered when they are born early.

I once received a referral for a baby boy who had been born about 3 months early, but was now 5 months old – 2 months past his due date.  He had a feeding tube, but didn’t need to be on any respiratory support, and was able to be held. His mother wasn’t able to be at bedside, and the nurses knew that letting him lay alone in his crib day after day would certainly slow his development even further, so they referred him to music therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

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Session Story: Music Therapy to Promote Emotional Expression and Social Connection

Emotional Expression Joyful Melodies Music Therapy

I once received a referral for a 12 year old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental delay who was hospitalized but had no family at bedside. She was nonverbal, and I was told that she did not communicate. The nurse thought she “would enjoy some music.”

When I went into the room, I spoke to her the way I would to any other person. “Hi! My name is Lauren. I’m a music therapist. I brought my guitar. I’d love to play a song for you!”

Her eyes were open, and she looked at me. I played a simple hello song, using her name. “Hello, Kate! It’s nice to see you today!” I continued to talk to her as I transitioned to the next song. “It’s so nice to be spending time with you! Let’s do another song!”

She lay still and seemed attentive as I sang. I decided to offer her the chance to make music with me, and brought out some small percussion instruments. I showed her a colorful maraca, playing it for her and touching it gently to her arm so that she could feel it. I helped her open her contracted fingers to grasp the handle. Suddenly, she reached her arm up and shook the maraca. Continue reading

Session Story: Music Therapy with Children Experiencing Grief and Loss

Music Therapy Grief Work

Working in a children’s hospital has its joys and its sorrows.

(Please note that in order to protect patient confidentiality, names and various other details will be changed, but the stories I share on this blog are based on true events.)

I’ve worked in a pediatric hospital since 2009.  Part of my job at the hospital is to provide emotional support to families when a child passes away.  Sometimes, I provide support by singing the child’s favorite songs as the ventilator is withdrawn. Sometimes, I play soft guitar music in the corner of the room as the parents spend those last moments with their child, so that the room isn’t so horribly silent when the sound of the child’s breathing ceases.

sometimes, I provide support by coloring and singing “Frozen” songs with the patient’s siblings.

I once got a referral to help support a group of sisters whose brother was actively dying.  They Continue reading