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Music Therapy

As defined by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

In other words, music therapists use music to assist patients during their hospital stay, improving their experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Music therapists use a variety of interventions tailored to each patient's unique needs. Some of the most frequently used interventions include live music, playing instruments together, singalongs, songwriting and recording, music assisted relaxation, guided imagery, lyric analysis, and the creation of legacy projects.

Our board-certified music therapists are equipped with age appropriate, musical instruments and recording tools/equipment, thanks to the generosity of the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation. Patient visits take place at the bedside and family and caregivers are welcome to participate. Co-treatment with other hospital disciplines may sometimes take place when deemed appropriate.

Music therapy is currently offered in all inpatient units. An SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital patient might be referred to music therapy for coping support, isolation, pain/symptom management, assistance with anxiety or depression and procedural support, just to name a few. After a patient is referred, the music therapist will make an initial visit to assess needs and establish goals for the child. Musical interventions will address things such as normalization of the hospital experience, increasing coping abilities, providing opportunities for creative self-expression, and emotional support for both the child and family unit.

Families may request a music therapy consultation through any member of their child's care team.

Our music therapists can offer patients assistance with:

  • Emotional expression/coping
  • New diagnosis support
  • Normalization of hospitalization
  • Stress relief
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Procedural support (case by case basis, upon referral from Child Life)
  • Pain/symptom management
  • Physical/motor concerns
  • Cognitive needs
  • Developmental delays or disabilities
  • Speech/language delays
  • Legacy building/end of life support

Therapeutic interventions may include:

  • Live music to address symptom management/anxiety
  • Instrument playing
  • Sing-along/song choice
  • Improvisation
  • Songwriting/song recording project
  • Music assisted relaxation
  • Legacy project
  • Guided imagery
  • Therapeutic music education

Parents are always welcome and encouraged to engage with their child in music therapy treatment. While some parents feel comfortable engaging actively and may even benefit from participation themselves, others choose to observe or step out to tend to outside tasks during their child's visit. All levels of parent participation are welcome.


For additional information and resources related to the music therapy field, please visit the American Music Therapy Association’s website.

Contact Music Therapy

How to Make a Referral

Families may request a music therapy visit through any member of their child's care team.

Donations We Accept

Your Donations Are Always Welcome!

Donations of new musical instruments are always welcome throughout the year and help to make the hospital a more kid friendly place.

Due to the popularity of our partnership with the Ukulele Kids Club, a nonprofit organization which provides ukuleles for hospitalized children to keep, additional ukuleles are always welcome and appreciated.

Patients and families are very appreciative of all gifts and are touched by your generosity to help make their hospital stay more comfortable.

Learn more about Child Life and donation opportunities to the music therapy program and other areas of the hospital.

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