Music Therapy Self-Care Group for Parents of Preterm Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Clinical Pilot Intervention.

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The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is something that expecting parents are never fully prepared for. The transition into parenthood, for the first time parents or parents with 3 kids all ready, is interrupted. This interruption presents a number of emotional, mental, and financial challenges. And while the care that babies recieve in a NICU is outstanding, it leads one to question the quality of care that the parents themselves receive. Constantly being in the hospital and watching their child go through so much at such a young age is, quite frankly, a lot to handle. This clinical pilot intervention aims to demonstrate that music therapy can provide parents of NICU babies with the support that they need as they navigate this difficult time.


A self-care music therapy group was implemented into the clinical practice of a hospital in Colombia with a family centered approach. Family-centered music therapy is the clinical focus of this study, with a goal to both integrate the needs of the parents into the baby’s care and address the needs separately from the baby. The baby is the one in the hospital, however, the parents have needs too. The participants of the group rated their anxiety, stress, mood, restfulness, and motivation before and after music therapy.


Music therapy interventions used included guided relaxation, breathing techniques, and opportunities for self-expression were provided. The music therapist also provided education on how to use music for coping and self-care outside of the group. The group was offered twice a week. As a result, the parents reported improvements in their anxiety levels, stress levels, motivation, mood, and restfulness. It was specifically mentioned by several participants that the music therapy group was also a great distraction from the stressors that they were facing. This study opens the door for parents to receive support during this difficult time, and the benefits of family-centered music therapy shine through.


By Josie McCutcheon, MT-BC

Roa, E., & Ettenberger, M. (2018). Music therapy self-care group for parents of preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit: A Clinical Pilot Intervention. Medicines, 5(4), 134. doi:10.3390/medicines5040134