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Rhythm of Encouragement: Music Therapy at Shriners Children's

patient with nurse playing guitars in music therapy room

Sarah and patient play guitars together.

At Shriners Children’s Southern California, the power of music therapy takes the stage as our music therapist, Sarah, MT-BC, uses sound to dive into the emotional state of our patients.

Sarah’s goal is to alleviate stress and provide support to patient during their visits. Establishing a strong rapport is the key to music therapy, as Sarah closely observes body language, asks questions to determine emotional states, and creates a safe space for expression. She empowers patients to make choices in their medical journey as they decide whether or not to participate in the therapy, and she encourages a sense of control at a time that may feel confusing.

Through the journey of music therapy, Sarah recognizes the importance of acknowledging patients' emotions and adjusting interventions to meet the patients’ needs in the moment. From refocusing the attention of anxious babies to providing a sense of control to those facing loss, music becomes a powerful tool in normalizing the room. With older patients, Sarah creates playlists that serve as an emotional outlet, allowing them to express themselves without the need for words.

There are times when our patients wake up feeling anxious and are unaware of their surroundings and the people around them. Verbal instructions become ineffective, but with an individual music intervention, patients can organize their breathing pattern and become more grounded without the need for words.

One patient had a similar experience and revealed that although he did not remember much from post-surgery, he did remember hearing music. “This made me feel like such an important part of the team, because I truly believe that music can reach people in such a unique way,” said Sarah. “I’m honored that I can play a small part in making a patient’s experience here a positive one.”

Shriners Children’s provides music therapy as more than a clinical practice. It becomes a compassionate and tailored approach to supporting patients through their unique experiences, one song at a time.

nurse and patient with their parent playing drums and guitar in music therapy

Sarah and a patient with their instruments

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