Music Therapy in Whole Person Care at the End of Life
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Whole Person Care aims to be deeply present to the person in the patient; acknowledging the integration of physical, psychosocial and spiritual facets of human experience, and creating a space in which healing, or a greater sense of wholeness, may occur. Music offers a potent tool in this endeavor. With its inherent capacity to engage body, mind and spirit, music can stimulate or calm, transport us to other times and places, reach our innermost emotions, and connect us to ourselves, our loved ones and our spirituality. In palliative care, music therapy joins with whole person care to meet patients and their loved ones as fully as possible.
Concepts central to whole person care will be presented and illustrated through the lens of clinical music therapy. For example, exploring how the skilful use of music addresses many dimensions of personhood will highlight Cassell’s concept of personhood. Demonstrating the ability of a significant melody to access and externalize personal meaning will integrate ideas from Frankl on meaning. Observing how relationship and creativity function as healing connections will draw from Mount, as will the idea of helping one move on a continuum from suffering to healing (Mount, Hutchinson, Kearney). The role of the health care professional as a ‘vulnerable-enough’ caregiver (Papadatou) or ‘wounded healer’ (Kearney) will also be touched upon. Throughout the presentation, poignant images, stories and video clips of patients engaging in music therapy at the end of life will serve to both enliven the didactic material and demonstrate how music therapy can create a space in which experiences of greater integrity may occur.
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