Music Therapy for Intensive Care

The music therapy clinicians of the Louis and Lucille Armstrong Music Therapy Program are compassionate experts in meeting the advanced needs of patients and families in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Research and clinical experience indicate that hearing functioning remains intact even when patients require sedation. Music therapy can create a means of connection for patients and their families. We use music therapy to complement the acute medical and psychosocial needs that often accompany hospitalization for this patient population.

Music therapists who work in the ICU provide personalized care for patients and their family on a daily basis. In this way, music therapy interventions can best support treatment needs as they arise, such as pain management, respiratory distress, fatigue, hypertension, anxiety and depression. We are able to provide compassionate environment in which patients and families can freely process and express their emotions.  Emotional reactions that patients and their family members may experience include feelings of:

  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Courage
  • Determination 
  • Distress
  • Faith
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Grief
  • Helplessness
  • Hope
  • Loss 
  • Love
  • Sadness
  • Strength

Intensive Care Units (ICU's) serving adults through geriatrics at Mount Sinai Beth Israel include the Cardiac Care Unit, Surgical ICU, and Medical ICU. Clinical services on these units currently consist of:

  • Daily individual music therapy sessions at the bedside
  • Environmental Music Therapy (EMT), creating a less tense environment
  • Pain Management: using live music with patients undergoing painful treatment/procedures. Patients may use active music-making for release/entrainment or relaxation/meditation with live music to ease pain experience
  • Pre-operative/procedural Anxiety: live music relaxation is used to help patients prepare for surgery and/or procedural care, accompanying patients to the operating and/or treatment room
  • We also use music therapy for patients who require end of life care. Music therapists provide daily sessions comfort and support during this difficult time. Music is also used to assist in expression of grief and /or to ensure a dignified passing