Music Therapy

Felician Village is thrilled to be the first senior living facility in Manitowoc County to offer music therapy services starting at St. Mary’s, and ultimately featured across campus. With this new service, we also welcome Anne Wilkerson, MT-BC, board-certified music therapist to the Felician Village team. (pictured to the right)

Music therapy can result in increased alertness, improved speech, and decreased agitation, anxiety or pain. Just as physical therapy is different from an exercise class, music therapy is different from entertainment. By using music purposefully through an understanding of how various musical elements are processed in the brain, residents can make positive progress.

Examples of How Music Therapy Can Help

  • Marty was referred for pain. He was grimacing, yelling, and tensing his muscles. By providing non-painful sensory input, the music therapist prevents pain sensations from traveling to the central nervous system. The music therapist began with auditory input and changed the speed, volume, rhythmic/chordal complexity to match Marty’s state until he was so relaxed that he fell asleep. This provided a non-pharmacological approach to pain management decreasing the need for more pain medication that day.
  • Shirley had late stage dementia and was referred to music therapy for anxiety and communication needs. She displayed nonsensical speech as well as tense/uncontrolled movements. Through interactive rhythmic interventions using a large frame drum, guitar, and vocals, Shirley was more relaxed. She is now able to answer yes/no questions, communicate in direct response to the music (i.e. “that was good, really good), and showed emotional response while communicating. Shirley was also able to move her body purposefully, by engaging with the drum.

Music Therapists Education Background

Music therapists earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in music therapy, obtain 1,200 hours of supervised clinical training, and pass the board certification exam. If determined that a resident may benefit from music therapy services, the music therapist will develop a treatment plan and see the resident regularly; some short-term and others longer. Music therapists are also trained musicians, using mostly live music in order to constantly adapt to a resident’s specific needs.

Program Funding

Funding for the music therapy program was generously provided by Felician Services, Inc., and the West Foundation. We extend our gratitude to them for investing in this initiative.

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