Staff Perceptions and Benefits of Music Therapy

Medical Staff

Staff Perceptions and Benefits of Music Therapy
Ever wondered what staff think about music therapy and other alternative therapies? Kennedy, Reed, Wamboldt chose to look into this in the article “Staff Perceptions of Complementary and Alternative Therapy Integration into a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Program.”
With all the changes in healthcare and worries of healthcare costs, many professionals are looking to provide excellent care to their patients in the most cost efficient manner. Alternative therapies such as music therapy, art therapy, poetry therapy, dance/movement therapy, psychodrama, etc. can create healing environments, emotional recovery, and foster positive working conditions for staff.
In this study, the authors focused on children/adolescents receiving psychiatric care and the perceived benefits of art, music, dance/movement, and yoga therapies. The authors also wanted to know if the staff at these facilities perceived any benefits when attending or being around these creative arts sessions. The study was conducted at a Children’s Hospital in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences with three art therapists, two music therapists, one dance/movement therapist, and one yoga therapist working as a team. Depending on the unit, patients received between 180 and 375 minutes of creative arts therapies per week. A Likert style survey (answers responding from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree”) was given to mental health clinicians and nurses.
All staff felt that the creative arts therapies positively affected patient treatment and the most important benefits were coping skills, relaxation, and stress relief. Some of the staff also mentioned increased bonds between clinician and patient and the ability to explore issues raised during creative arts therapies as benefits. For instance, a clinician may use patient created work or art or song during a talk therapy session to help the patient open up or better express what they are feeling.
Personally, staff felt that actively participating in creative arts therapies gave them the opportunity to create stronger bonds with patients, understanding childrens’ emotional ranges, encouraging communication from shy patients, and reigniting compassion for patients. Of note, the eating disorders unit reported the most significant benefits to patients. The authors theorize that this may be because patients suffering from anorexia nervosa often struggle to describe and process their emotional states and may be drawn to creative arts therapies because they are less verbal than other therapies.
In general, music therapy and other creative arts therapies can not only benefit patients but staff as well. This study indicates that less verbal and more creative therapies can provide an alternative means for coping, stress relief, and relaxation while providing a way for staff to connect and better understand patients. For more information on how music therapy can benefit your family or your patients, please visit
Jessica Schlabach, MM,MT-BC