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Music Therapy at the End of Life

Sixth Arts and Quality of Life Research Center Conference

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Sixth Arts and Quality of Life Research Center Conference

Boyer College of Music and Dance

March 1, 2013

Howard Gittis Student Center, Temple University

Music Therapy at the End of Life

Featuring the Clinical Work of Temple Faculty and Students


8:30                              Registration

9:00-9:10                     Welcome (200C)

Robert Stroker, Dean: Center for the Arts

Cheryl Dileo: Director: The Arts and Quality of Life Research Center


9:10- 9:50                     Keynote I (200C)

Metaphor and Symbolism in Music and Imagery (GIM)

during Transition to Death: A Case Study

Denise Grocke, PhD, MT-BC, RMT

Fellow, Association for Music and Imagery

Emeritus Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia

The case study tracks metaphoric and symbolic imagery of a 59-year old woman with ALS as she prepared for transition. Five GIM sessions (full length) were given over an 8-month period, and significant images tell a rich story of acceptance and readiness for death.


10:00-10:30              Coffee Break

10:30-11:15              Keynote II (200C)

Songs and Meaning-Making at the End of Life

Dr. Cheryl Dileo, PhD, MT-BC

Fellow, Association for Music and Imagery

Laura H. Carnell Professor of Music Therapy

Understanding the meaning/purpose of one ‘s life in retrospect is considered a developmental task of the end of life. Through elaboration and case examples, the presenter will describe the use of songs to help dying persons achieve this task.


11:15-12:00              Keynote III (200C)

Coming Alive: Music Therapy with People Living with Late Stage Neurological Illness

Wendy Magee, PhD, Music Therapist

Associate Professor of Music Therapy

Music therapy with people with late stage degenerative neurological illnesses can be used both receptively and actively depending on the person’s ability on that day and at that time. Songs of personal meaning transport an individual through the biography of their life; improvisation and song-writing foster creative expression and the birth of something ‘new’. Case vignettes from the presenter’s research will illustrate the role of music therapy as a companion for the person journeying through the latter stages of chronic illness.


12:00-1:30            Lunch on your own

1:30-2:15              Breakout Session 1

Vocal Wisdom: Relationship, Connection and Intimacy

in Hospice Music Therapy (217A)

Brooke Carroll MMT, MT-BC

Doctoral Assistant, Temple University

Music therapists use their voices extensively in the hospice setting.  This presentation will discuss the vocal awareness necessary for this environment.  The presenter will also explore how the therapist's voice can be used specifically to enhance relationship, connection and intimacy with hospice clients and their families.  


Music therapy Life Review and Song Dedication:

A Case Study with a Patient with ALS (217B)

Stephanie Agren, MT-BC, MMT

Music Therapist at VNA Health Group

The presentation will be a case study specifically focused on the process of putting together a song legacy with a gentleman with ALS. Biopsychosocial issues that came up for both the therapist and client will be addressed. 


The Last Note: Music Therapy at the Moment of Death (217C) 

Debbie Bates, MMT, MT-BC

Music Therapist II  Cleveland Clinic OH

Lauren DiMaio, MMT, MT-BC

Music Therapist, CarePartners, NC

Two music therapists will explore experiences of being with people at the moment of death. The physiological signs of death will be reviewed. Musical considerations and categories of experiences will be discussed.


“We Will Remember You”: Legacy and Bereavement Work through the Creative Arts Therapies with Pediatric

and Adult Hospice Patients and their Families (217D) 

Charla Burton, LCAT, MMT, MT-BC

Music Therapist, MJHS Hospice & Palliative Care, New York, NY

Hannah Phillips, MT-BC

Music Therapist, Heartland Hospice, Reading, PA

In hospice home care, we are responsible for the treatment of the entire family, along with the hospice patient, from admission to the bereavement period. Through the use of creative arts therapies, we can help the patient and family in creating positive memories, precious keepsakes, and lasting moments that will stay with families long after the patient has died. Pediatric and adult case studies will be used to explore this process- and product-oriented work; multiple modalities will be discussed.



2:30-3:15              Breakout Session 2

The E's of Building a New Music Therapy Program in Hospice (217A) 

Lauren Byma, MMT, MT-BC 

Music Therapist, Vitas Innovative Hospice Care, Newark, DE

Jennifer Swanson, MMT, MT-BC, Music Therapist

Heartland Hospice of Philadelphia

Kayla Sadowy, MT-BC

Music Therapist, Heartland Hospice of New Jersey

Building a brand new program proves to be far from simple.  Through exploring the components of education, efficiency, and endurance, a start-up program may not be so daunting or can find new growth from considering these elements.  Three music therapists in various stages of navigating the development of hospice programs share their experiences.


When We Only Have the Moment:

The Clinical Use of Improvisation to Facilitate Communication and Draw Out the Human Spirit in Patients with Dementia and Families (217B)

Mary-Ellen Smith, MMT, MT-BC, HPMT

Supervising Music Therapist, Seasons Hospice of San Diego

As patients with dementia disappear cognitively, they often become isolated and lose expressive outlets, yet there is still a trace of the human spirit. This presentation explores how improvisation promotes communication, ignites the spirit and facilitates connection between patients and loved ones.


Music Therapy Entrainment at the End-of-Life (217C) 

Lauren Di Maio, MMT, MT-BC

Music Therapist/Bereavement Manager CarePartners Hospice

This session will explore the use of Music Therapy Entrainment in a hospice setting. Professional issues will be presented as well as a case example.

"Within My Reach:" Songwriting with Adults in Hospice and Bereavement (217D)

Molly Hicks, MMT, MT-BC

Music Therapist, Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care of Maryland

In end-of-life and bereavement care, songwriting can be a powerful intervention for faciliating life-review and relationship completion, providing opportunities for self-expression, and improving quality of life, among other goals. This presentation will include strategies for introducing the concept of songwriting, specific songwriting approaches, as well as sharing about and reflection on case examples.


3:30-4:15              Breakout Session 3

Improvisation in Hospice Music Therapy: 

Entering the Creative Now at the End of Life (217A)

Jillian Argue, MMT, MT-BC

Music Therapist, Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care of Delaware

While other methods are often employed in hospice and palliative care, improvisation provides patients and families with unique opportunities to meet goals pertaining to communication and closure.  Relevant literature and case examples will be explored to support the use of improvisation and Creative Music Therapy in end-of-life care.   


Love in the Time of Loss:

Prebereavement Work with Long-Term Caregivers in End-of-Life Care (217B)

Noah Potvin, MMT, MT-BC

Music Therapist @ VITAS Hospice NJ West

Often overlooked during hospice care are the caregivers who have loyally fought to maintain acceptable dignity and quality of life standards for their loved ones for many months and years. This presentation will explore the role of music therapy in assisting with integral end-of-life tasks for caregivers including relationship completion, expressions of convoluted grief and meaning-making. 


Family-Centered Music Therapy at End of Life: A Pediatric Case Presentation (217C) 

Juliet Mitton, MMT, MT-BC

Music Therapist-Hospice and Community Care (formerly Hospice of Lancaster County 

This presentation will illustrate how family-centered music therapy was used to address the needs of a pediatric patient and his family at end of life. The presentation will feature the core concepts of family-centered care, themes that arise in pediatric palliative care, and the use of music therapy in meeting the goals in the patient’s plan of care.


4:15                            End of Conference