Music Therapy for Pain Medicine & Palliative Care

The Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care at Mount Sinai provides comprehensive care of the highest quality, while holding a commitment to advancing the educational and research aims of pain medicine and palliative care. We use a treatment model focused on the care of patients with all types of progressive incurable diseases, and includes a broad range of interventions through a multi-disciplinary staff that together help the patient and family maintain quality of life while living with the disease, and allow the patient with advanced illness to face the end-of-life with comfort ensured, values and decisions respected, and the family supported.

Music Therapy and Pain Management

In pain management, a medical music psychotherapy approach is utilized by our expertly trained team of therapists to address physiological symptoms of pain and the conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings of patients with chronic, acute and/or procedural pain. Music therapy treatment in pain management may be offered independently or in addition to pharmacological therapy with consideration to patient preference and relative to the patient's defined and observed pain experience and coping capacity, which is determined with the patient and the interdisciplinary team of care providers in conjunction with the music therapist's detailed pain assessment. 

Music Therapy and Palliative Care

Music therapy services in palliative care focus on supporting comfort and quality of life aspects of experience for patients, family and staff. Depending on the time of encounter along the patient's illness trajectory, goals of care may include supporting symptom management, aiding self-expression, enhancing coping capacity, facilitating life-review, assisting in constructive and/or meaningful shared experience between patient and significant others, and exploring end-of-life issues.

Clinical Services

There are a wide range of clinical services currently available in pain management and palliative care at Mount Sinai. These clinical services include:

  • Daily individual music therapy sessions conducted at the patient's bedside or in the music therapy studio; sessions geared to increase resilience, enhancing affect to build resistance or to assist in relaxing, providing a means for addressing end of life issues including letting go, closure, life review and transition to death.
  • Environmental Music Therapy (EMT), which helps to create a less tense environment.
  • Monthly out-patient, community-based music therapy support group for patients coping with Sickle Cell Disease, which addresses common issues of coping with chronic illness and pain among a group of peers.
  • Pre-operative Anxiety: Live music relaxation to help prepare patients for surgery and/or treatment, accompanying patient to the operating/treatment room.
  • Procedural Music Therapy, using live music with patients undergoing treatment procedures and/or testing such as radiation, biopsies, endoscopies, and wound care. Patients use drumming for release/entrainment or relaxation/meditation with live music to ease pain experience.
  • The use of music for patients and families who are at the end of life. Music therapists provide daily sessions easing the passage from life to death, assuring comfort and support. Music is also used to assist in expression of grief and/or to ensure a dignified death.
  • Weekly group sessions, available on many inpatient units, which offer opportunities for interactive/collaborative experience in music-making in order to create a "home" feel for patients and staff, changing the hospital atmosphere as well as facilitating identification and connection to healthy coping resources.