Music Therapy in Hospice

January 8, 2019


I recently read an interesting journal article about music therapy in hospice titled “Music Therapy When Death is Imminent: a Phenomenological Inquiry”.  Phenomenology is an approach that is more concerned with the subjective experiences of a few rather than with quantifiable data gleaned from a large number of test subjects.  One of the themes that came up in the study was the need for thorough and ongoing assessment.  However, assessment was often less clinical and more intuitive, especially as the patient was transitioning.  A patient’s responses may be “felt” more than observed.  In addition, the participating music therapists mentioned a need for awareness of counter-transference.  As the patient becomes less responsive, it can be easier to project our own thoughts, feelings, and spirituality on to them.  I found this study to be fascinating as I have had experience playing at bedside.  My own experiences are similar to those mentioned in the journal article.  However, it also brings up some questions for me.  At what point, does hospice music therapy cease to become music therapy and become something else entirely?  Do other Therapeutic Music programs acknowledge the issue of counter-transference and teach their practitioners how to deal with it? 


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Lincoln, NE, USA


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