Hospice News

"Just hearing a song can open up something words alone can't."

05 Dec 2023

Patient Care Stories

Our Music Therapist, Kamila uses the extraordinary power of song to support her clients through difficult times. During this Grief Awareness Week (2-8 December), we acknowledge the different types of support that our Emotional and Psychological Support team offer at the Hospice.

Kamila says: "My job is about providing therapy for patients and their families. I might use music, but I might not. I'm very conscious of not forcing it on people but offering it as a wonderful way to help them on their journey. For me, the bottom line is meeting people where they are and supporting them with what they need in the way they need it.

Kamila with musical instruments

"The beauty of music is that it can be used in so many ways. I'm careful about how I introduce it in a session, as it can be a bit intimidating for some people. I might start with a little talking, giving the person the chance to communicate what they're going through. If they mention a song or a piece of music, I might suggest we listen to it together and then reflect on the memories it brings up. 

"Just hearing a song can open something words alone can't. When we communicate, we have unspoken social contracts about stuff we can and can't talk about, what emotions we can and can't share. But when you hear a song that means something to you, you can start to feel things that can be very hard to name verbally.

"Song writing is a big part of music therapy. The client and I will write the lyrics together and I'll help them to create the music – how they want the song to sound. In the process of creating it you have to think and reflect, so it helps people to process things. We record the song in our session and then the person can keep it, listen to it, or forget about it – whatever they want to do.

"My favourite instrument is the voice. Singing is so visceral because unlike a guitar or piano or drum, the voice is an instrument that actually belongs to you – it's part of you. With children, I love improvising with it, responding vocally to something they might say or do. With the voice, you can make any sound or intensity you want. You can load it with effect; you can be quiet or loud. It's an incredible instrument to use.

"I also like to try what we call the body/mind approach. Difficult emotions and complex feelings show up in our bodies just as much as in our thoughts. We 'dissect' an emotion and learn what it feels like in the body. We connect with how our bodies experience emotions, and we learn to observe those sensations, rather than fear them. This helps to decrease the power they have over us."

Emotional and Psychological Support

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