The creative and professionally informed use of music in a therapeutic relationship with people who are:
- identified as needing physical, psychosocial, or spiritual assistance; or
- aspiring to experience further self-awareness, enabling increased life satisfaction and quality.
It has become an increasingly popular addition to multidisciplinary teams within established palliative care services.
Music therapy is the use of sounds and music within an evolving relationship between client and therapist to support and encourage physical, mental, social, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
Music therapy has been organized as a professional discipline since the 1950s.
Music therapy was introduced within palliative care in 1978, with the work of Munro and Mount, who used "receptive" and "recreative" methods to promote relaxation and encourage the expression of difficult feelings. Since this work, music therapists have continued to develop techniques, such as song writing, musical improvisation, and environmental approaches for use in this field.
Therapists now work across the breadth of palliative care, among patients with advanced cancer, HIV and AIDS, multiple sclerosis, serious brain-impairments, and in home-based palliative care settings.
: Systematic review of research has demonstrated that music therapy has contributed to:
• reduction in pain
• improved mood
• reduced fatigue
• facilitated relaxation
• physical comfort
• increased spirituality
• improved quality of life
Adapted from Kelly JO, Koffman J. Multidisciplinary perspectives of music therapy in adult palliative care. Palliative Medicine 2007; 21:235–241.