Music Therapy Helps Normalize the Hospital Experience

Taylor Wilson, MT-BC, loves sharing her passion with music, especially with the children at ProMedica Russell J. Ebeid Children’s Hospital. As a music therapist with Child Life, she visits the various pediatric units and provides music therapy to patients and their families.

The many benefits of music therapy may not always be obvious, but there’s a lot going on behind every note.

“It might look like we’re just singing songs, but we’re also working on communication. We’re also working on elevating mood,” Wilson explains. “Sometimes, we work on pain management by learning how to do deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Sometimes it’s just distraction because it’s kind of isolating in their room. So I’m bringing them out of their shell a little bit.”

The Child Life Program

The Child Life program exists to help patients and families cope with the emotional impact of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss, and bereavement. Clinically trained Child Life Specialists provide evidence-based, developmentally, and psychologically appropriate interventions. In addition to music therapy, the Child Life program offers advocacy, pet therapy, medical play, therapeutic play, bead programs, educational services and sibling support.

Maria Gaskins, MHRM, Supervisor, Child Life, adds: “The Child Life staff and volunteers at Ebeid Children’s Hospital create opportunities for children to feel like themselves while in the hospital. They are often a friendly face that plays games, creates art, or reads books with the patients.”

These moments also offer respite for parents and caregivers so they may grab a meal or take care of personal business outside of the room and feel comfortable leaving their child with the Child Life staff member to do something fun and therapeutic.

Music with a Lasting Impact

It doesn’t take long for the children to warm up to the Child Life team. At the start of music therapy, children are often amazed and curious with Wilson’s instruments, but then they slowly inch their way into participating.

“I sing some familiar songs and they’re right there with me. Usually they’re singing right along,” she says. “Sometimes we do songwriting because it’s a way that they can control something. They can’t control a lot of things, but they can control what instruments they’re playing, what songs they’re talking about and things like that.”

Experiences like these help to normalize the hospital experience by reducing the stress and anxiety associated with being in a hospital.

“By creating ways for patients to reduce stress and anxiety, patients can begin to heal and, in some cases, reduce the length of their hospital stay,” explains Gaskins. “Child Life makes a lasting impact by creating enjoyable experiences for the patients and their families.”