Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida
Music Therapy Helps Patients Heal
"I am part of the interdisciplinary team and incorporate music interventions to promote physical and emotional comfort during hospitalization for our patients and caregivers," says Julie Avirett, music therapist at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Julie uses a variety of instruments to help patients overcome the symptoms of their illness, even for a short time. She may offer a harmonica to a patient with asthma or set up a D.J. turntable for a patient who needs to move around. Relaxation and distraction techniques are provided to reduce pain and anxiety during bedside procedures. She also helps patients compose their own songs and lyrics.
"Patients have created songs detailing steps of medicine taking and what it is like to have surgery, followed by a lengthy hospitalization," Julie says. "They write about missing special events, friends and changes in daily activities due to their illness."
Other patients write songs to express hopes, dreams, gratitude or final messages to loved ones before death. "Patients are able to record their song, creating a keepsake for them and their family," she says.
Julie takes the research-based interventions to children as young as infants to teens throughout the pediatric units. "I love to watch as music therapy opens new paths of physical and/or emotional healing in our patients and families," she says.
Music therapy may appear as simple as singing or playing instruments with patients. However, each instrument and interaction is carefully selected to achieve the treatment goal, and patient responses are documented in the medical chart.
Julie says she is fortunate to be a part of her patients' lives. "Music therapy enriches the hospital experience for our patients and families," she says. "It is a privilege to be invited into their lives during difficult and stressful times."
"I love to watch as music therapy opens new paths of physical and/or emotional healing in our patients and families," music therapist Julie Avirett says.