Harps in Hospice - Music Thanatology and Music Therapy in the Care of the Dying: A Description of Philosophies, Training, Clinical Practices and Implications in Hospice Care

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Taylor, Kathryn
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
The introduction of music thanatology practices in hospice care has brought a number of concerns to the hospice music therapy community, particularly in those settings that employ both a music therapist and a music thanatologist. There is no literature that describes the relationships between the philosophies, training and clinical practices of hospice music therapy and music thanatwoiogy. The lack of research on the field of music thanatology has led to strong opinions, perhaps not based upon facts, about the practice of music thanatology and the potential impact on the practice of music therapy in the care of the dying. Hospice care workers, families and physicians appear to have difficulty distinguishing between the modalities of music therapy and music thanatology. This lack of distinction impacts the accuracy of referrals and effective symptom management for terminally ill patients and potentially contributes to the relationships between the two fields. The purpose of this study was to investigate the training, philosophy and clinical practices of music therapy and music thanatology in hospice and provide useful information to make comparisons between the two fields. This study implemented a literature review and survey of music therapists and music thanatologists working with the terminally ill. Data was collected on the opinions and experiences of one hundred and twenty-six music therapists and thirteen music thanatologists related to their philosophies of practice, educational experiences, competencies, and clinical interventions. Current and future relationships between music therapists and music thanatologists and their respective professional organizations were also addressed in this study. Findings demonstrate commonalities and distinctions between the two fields and indicate areas for future collaboration including research and co-education. Results also suggest implications tor hospice care such as co-treatment and collaborative referral relationshizs.