Special Issue 11 (1) 2019 “Exploring the spiritual in music: Interdisciplinary dialogues in music, wellbeing and education” – Article (first published on 24 November 2019)
Music therapy and spiritual care: Music as spiritual support in a hospital environment
Independent scholar, Australia
This paper is a personal essay that offers reflection on professional experiences of music therapy practice with a focus on emotional and spiritual care in the hospital context in Australia. There is a growing need to map the terrain of music therapy in relation to spirituality. Music can deepen spiritual experiences and holds broad potential for addressing ‘the spiritual’ across contexts. Music therapy within a pastoral care context is considered, with spiritual and emotional support as the primary focus. After a brief discussion of spirituality in the music therapy literature, a context and background is provided for the establishment of a music therapy program within the pastoral care department of a regional hospital. Examples of ‘the spiritual’ in patient responses to music therapy are discussed. Professional challenges surrounding a more direct recognition of a spiritual aspect to music therapy are explored. Vignettes from clinical experiences across two different hospital settings are shared with reflection on the place of spirituality in the author’s practice. Practice-based experiences are considered against existing notions of spirituality in the music therapy literature, to see what they may offer in mapping this field. The relationship between body, mind and spirit is briefly explored, with a reflection on the position of spirituality in relation to health and culture.
music therapy, spirituality, spiritual care, hospital, healing, therapeutic relationship
Astrid Notarangelo is a freelance music therapist who developed a music therapy programme within pastoral care at a regional Australian hospital from 2011-2017. Music therapy was offered on rehabilitation, critical care and medical units. This included supporting palliative patients and their families. Astrid is a qualified pastoral associate. She is also a PhD student at the National Creative Arts and Music Therapy Research Units (CAMTRU), University of Melbourne, Australia. [firstname.lastname@example.org]