Music therapy for cancer patients

Music therapy is an established profession which uses clinical and evidence-based music interventions address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing your strengths and needs, qualified music therapists provide treatment, which could include, creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music.

Music therapy in cancer care has been clinically proven to promote positive outcomes when fighting cancer, including:

  • Pain management using live music and guided muscle relaxation
  • Decreased anxiety through music listening or music-making
  • Emotional coping through songwriting, journaling with music, or lyric discussion 

Spectrum Health Cancer Center has two music therapists, who provide individual and group sessions at Spectrum Health Cancer Center at Lemmen-Holton and the Lettinga Inpatient Cancer Center in Butterworth Hospital.

The “Music for Health” initiative is a partnership with the Grand Rapids Symphony that was extended to the Cancer Center in 2015, after being successfully implemented within Spectrum Health Continuing Care.

The partnership aims to promote healing and wellness in mind, body and spirit through interaction with live instrumental music. Environmental music sessions for patients are led by a unique combination of the music therapists and ensembles from the Grand Rapids Symphony. Sessions primarily address relaxation and mood, as well as create a warm and healing environment through the provision of live music in the infusion suites at Spectrum Health Cancer Center.

Patients have an opportunity to interact with the musicians and music therapists while enjoying the music. The music used in therapy has been specifically written to address relaxation, imagery, mood and emotions, and to support the unique needs of cancer patients.

Our locations

Frequently asked questions

What is a music therapist?
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A music therapist holds a degree in music therapy, has completed clinical and internship placements, and has passed the national board certification test. Some of our music therapists have additional training in neurologic or hospice music therapy.

Do I need to have a musical background?
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No musical background is required or necessary. Music therapy addresses a patient’s non-musical needs and therapy goals.

How do I make a referral for myself or someone else?
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Music therapy is only available at certain locations. Referrals can be made by talking to the nurse, therapy team, social worker or recreation therapist.

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