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Music Therapy at The Nebraska Medical Center

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Posted 2/28/2015

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Jessie Habluetzel is a Board Certified Music Therapist at The Nebraska Medical Center. She studied Music Therapy at The University of Kansas. Thanks to a generous donor, Jessie was hired full-time at The Nebraska Medical Center in October of 2013. "That donation is very worthwhile. It goes to making kids happy and promoting the overall health and well being of these patients," said Jessie. Music therapy is the clinical and evidenced based use of music interventions to address therapeutic goals. Research has shown that, like medicine, music can have a physiological effect when introduced in a therapeutic setting. Music therapy is not only something Jessie's patients enjoy, it also promotes healing, normalization of the hospital experience and overall quality of life. So, what are these benefits of music therapy? And why might you want to request music therapy services for your child if they are admitted to the hospital? Music therapy may be recommended for a variety of reasons. Research has shown music therapy to help children that are: • Anxious or agitated • Unable to manage pain • Showing symptoms of depression • Coping poorly with their illness • Hospitalized for a long period of time • Non-compliant • Needing cognitive or sensory stimulation • Needing additional developmental support • Needing positive sibling/family interactions and emotional support. Currently, Jessie provides services to the General Pediatric, Pediatric Intensive Care, Pediatric Oncology/Hematology, and Neonatal Intensive Care units. Adaptability is an important part of her job! Each session is customized to the child and each child is very different. She always encourages "choice" regarding participation, instruments, songs, and other aspects of the music interventions. Are the kids going to sing, write a song, play instruments, or listen to music today? What instruments should they use? Who is their favorite artist? So much of a child's hospital experience is not a choice; they don't get to choose to be at the hospital, or whether they take their medicine, or when they go to procedures. Music therapy tends to be a non-threatening medium that can be a part of their treatment, but also something that they have control over. The one commonality Jessie sees across music therapy sessions is a smile. Whether it is from the patient and/or the patient's family, it is refreshing to watch joy and personalities shine through a dreary situation. While a simple thing, positive mood plays such an important role in the healing process! Many of Jessie's patients tend to have more energy, compliance, and overall positive attitudes following a music therapy session. This is yet another reason why she loves her job! "Everything I do depends on the needs of the patients. I get to watch the kids smile, have fun and be creative! Some of the things these kids come up with is amazing," said Jessie. For more information about music therapy, how to become a music therapist, and current research, check out the "American Music Therapy Association."