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Another Year of Amazing …

songs of hope image2I will never forget the day this summer …

… that I received a phone call from the mother of a 13-year-old who had a terminal diagnosis. “I know that music therapy is effective for my child, but we cannot afford services on top of all of the medical bills. Is there a way that you can help?”

Because of our partnership with Wellspring International, my answer was, “Yes, we can help. We will have a music therapist come out to your home this week and begin services at no cost to you and your family.”

We received word last Friday that our grant-funded music therapy program, Songs of Hope, will be funded for the next fiscal year by Wellspring International (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017).

What does this mean for Atlanta?

It means that hospice patients and their families, bereaved children, and refugees that are currently residing in Atlanta, will all have access to music therapy services at absolutely no cost to them.

It means that patients and their families can be supported during their darkest and most difficult times. It means that children can begin their healing process and have a supportive presence throughout their grief and loss journey. It means that refugees of all ages and from all over the world can receive support during some of life’s hardest transitions.

How has Songs of Hope already made in impact in Atlanta?

One of our partner hospice companies, Ark Hospice, says this of the Songs of Hope Music Therapy Program:

Our Ark Hospice team is truly so thankful for the services that MMT has provided to our patients and families. We have seen how their calming presence and therapeutic sessions have improved our patients’ lives. They’ve helped our patients with pain management, encouraged healthy coping skills, improved their quality of life and have facilitated emotional expression, reminiscence, and life review.

They also served many of our patients individually, and one particular patient struggled through a period of depression related to feeling purposeless in life. As Sam continued to meet with her and connect through music, he was able to help restore some confidence in her spiritual purpose and was able to provide healthy distraction from her anxiety and physical pain. He taught her coping skills that she was able to use when our team was not there to provide reassurance. She always talked about how much she enjoyed his visits and how she felt calmer and more at peace as a result.

Another patient was unable to speak English –  Spanish was her native language. Erin quickly volunteered to provide services to her and was able to play Spanish hymns and folk songs. Though this patient was nonverbal and Erin was only able to provide a few sessions before she was off of hospice services, her family was extremely appreciative and truly believed that her quality of life was greatly improved during her final weeks of life. They even asked Erin to play for her Memorial Service.

I know that these brief stories cannot adequately capture all that MMT had done, but I hope that they provide a snapshot of how music therapy has impacted our hospice patients throughout their end-of-life journeys. Thank you again for all that you do at Metro Music Therapy!

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We are honored, humbled, and thrilled to be able to continue our partnership with Wellspring International in order to make a positive impact in the lives and hearts of the people of Atlanta.

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2016-12-03T04:33:09+00:00September 1st, 2016|Grief & Loss, Hospice Music Therapy, MT in Healthcare, news|

MMT & Northside Hospital

maternityMetro Music Therapy is thrilled to announce the details of their newest project that is being completed with the H.E.A.R.T. strings Perinatal Bereavement and Palliative Care office at Northside Hospital.

The MMT team and H.E.A.R.T. strings have been working for months to write original scripts and original music for a Relaxation CD for parents who have lost or are anticipating the loss of their baby.

The CD will be finished in the Fall of 2016 and once completed, will be available for public purchase. Proceeds will benefit H.E.A.R.T. strings patients at Northside Hospital.

You can learn more about the bereavement services Metro Music Therapy offers here. Click here to learn more about the H.E.A.R.T. strings Perinatal Bereavement and Palliative Care program.

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Music Therapy and iPods

gratitudeA few weeks ago, Sam and I had the honor of traveling to St. Simons Island to attend the Georgia Health Care Association’s Annual Social Worker’s Meeting. We were invited to this conference to view the film, Alive Inside, with the conference attendees, and we presented immediately after about the benefits of music therapy for patients and residents in long-term residential care. I want to tell you what we observed, learned, and have taken away from this experience!

First and Foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room: Why do Music Therapists get so fired up about the film, “Alive Inside,” and the hype surrounding it? If you are a music therapist, you know what I mean. If you are not a music therapist, you might be confused as to why our field is a little on edge about this film. I think our collective defensiveness is based off of this simple idea: the common public perception is that the Music & Memory program IS Music Therapy. Many friends and family members have been thrilled to share the news of the film with us, saying, “This reminded me of you and of the work you do!” — and while that should be a compliment, we get defensive because our field is often misunderstood.

During our presentation, I told the room of social workers that as a musician, I was excited to see the seniors in the film receive access to their favorite music. As a music therapist, however, I saw missed opportunities to address clinical goals such as reducing isolation, increasing opportunities for socialization, memory recall, verbal processing, making emotional connections with family members, life review, and improving overall quality of life. This is why the iPod program is not a replacement for music therapy services.

One example of this “missed opportunity” involved Henry, the elderly gentleman with Alzheimer’s. The facility staff described him as being confused and isolated most of the time, a very typical description of any individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s. When the staff placed the headphones on Henry’s ears and began playing his favorite music, Henry became “alive” – he truly lit up. His affect became bright and his eyes flew wide open. He began singing (beautifully), and then recalled memories about the music he was hearing. So why would I call this a missed opportunity? If you watch the room while Henry is having this experience, you see other residents sitting around him, craning their necks with genuine interest to see what Henry is doing. You see Henry, a man who is typically isolated, becoming even more isolated while he closes out the world to listen to his music, completely by himself. I saw this moment as an opportunity to send in a board-certified music therapist to facilitate a group session which would incorporate everyone in the room in any capacity. Henry would then be able to share his memories and experiences with his peers – something that is nearly impossible for him to do when his memory is not livened by the music.

ipodSo, Music Therapists should be defensive then, right? I don’t believe so. This film shows us the positive power that music holds over our minds and memories. I wholeheartedly believe that every human should have access to their favorite music, and should be able to listen to it whenever they want. I also believe that Music Therapy is an effective clinical treatment option and – hear me – should not be implemented in a unit or facility all day every day. We work on clinical treatment goals and our patients and clients get exhausted. They need a mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual break. Just as a physical therapist shouldn’t be with a patient all day every day in order to let the body rest and restore before the next session, we can’t be with a patient 24/7. Music Therapists listen to me carefully: we cannot have it both ways. Let’s be very careful not to contradict ourselves. We can’t ask the world to view our services as something different than music entertainment (which it is!) and also get upset or offended when a facility brings someone or something in to act as entertainment. So we shouldn’t be defensive when a facility with whom we work brings in an iPod program, as long as that program isn’t meant to replace music therapy services (if it is, we need to better educate on the differences between the two, and the exclusive benefits of both).

This is why I believe every facility will benefit from having a music entertainment program (be it iPods, live musicians, etc) AND a music therapy program. People need to listen to music leisurely and for entertainment, and in a separate time and place, patients and clients with any diagnosis should have access to music therapy services to address their treatment goals. It shouldn’t be a choice between one or the other – it should be both.

Music Therapists, we have come a long way in the past 60-70 years. Think about how much further we can go if we were to view music entertainment programs as allies, and not enemies!

*Want to learn more about approaching and educating facilities on the differences between an iPod program and Music Therapy services? Attend the MMT Academy Spring 2016 course entitled, “Music Therapy & iPods” taking place in Atlanta and via live streaming on March 13, 2016! More info announced here on 11.12.15

Thank you, Dr. Sacks

Written by Kally Ramminger, LPMT, MT-BC

I’ve watched the music therapy community mourn the death of Dr. Oliver Sacks over the past week. His legacy will live on forever, as he has helped so many people throughout the years understand the power that music has on one’s brain. Equally important, he also taught us the importance of preserving the humanity of every human being, regardless of their situation or diagnosis.

I’ve pulled together some of the most poignant words from Dr. Sacks (in my opinion), that have helped guide my understanding and role as a music therapist. Thank you, Dr. Oliver Sacks for your incredibly valuable contribution to this world.

You remind us that music is vital, essential to life.

Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

You remind us to look beyond the diagnosis of an individual.

In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.”

You remind us that our brain is fascinating organ and a never-ending exploration of knowledge.

It really is a very odd business that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads.”

You remind us the power of death and the privilege we have as music therapists to be a part of the dying process.

When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

You remind us that no two people, diagnoses, or experiences are ever the same.

Individuality is deeply imbued in us from the very start, at the neuronal level. Even at a motor level, researchers have shown, an infant does not follow a set pattern of learning to walk or how to reach for something. Each baby experiments with different ways of reaching for objects and over the course of several months discovers or selects his own motor solutions. When we try to envisage the neural basis of such individual learning, we might imagine a “population” of movements (and their neural correlates) being strengthened or pruned away by experience.

Similar considerations arise with regard to recover and rehabilitation after strokes and other injuries. There are no rules; there is no prescribed path of recovery; every patient must discover or create his own motor and perceptual patterns, his own solutions to the challenges that face him; and it is the function of a sensitive therapist to help him in this.

And in its broadest sense, neural Darwinism implies that we are destined, whether we wish it or not, to a life of particularity and self-development, to make our own individual paths through life.”

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{All of the above quotes were direct words from Dr. Oliver Sacks.}

#Wellness – It’s for Everyone!

No matter what our daily grind entails, we all need an outlet. We all need to decompress. We all need to take our health into our own hands. And if we can be preventative as opposed to reactive, it’s going to be better for all of us. 

Wellness programs have provided a return on investment of around 3 to 1 for both direct medical cost and productivity in the workplace. Wellness and Staff Support programs focus on prevention and corporations are finding that providing wellness services for their employees are beneficial in a number of ways.

Did you know that Metro Music Therapy leads wellness sessions for healthcare providers? Our therapists provide employees in high-stress work environments with much needed downtime that can be difficult to otherwise carve out for themselves.

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Sam and Mallory led a Music Therapy & Wellness session at the Annual Retreat for the Georgia Society of Healthcare Chaplains in the fall of 2014.

Here at Metro we believe in wellness so much that we have started getting our team together once a month for our own wellness sessions! Our Clinical Director, Sarah Seo, is planning these events for us. Last month we had a morning full of coffee, conversation, and art. We created our own mandalas and had a chance to talk with the team about our current states of mind. It was such a relaxing and insightful morning for all of us. We can’t wait to see what Sarah has in store for us next month!

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2016-12-03T04:33:12+00:00May 21st, 2015|Medical, Mental Health, MT in Healthcare, Music Therapy, Wellness|
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