April Hickey


Healing Body, Mind & Spirit through Music: Meet Music Therapist April Hickey

What’s the purpose of music therapy?


Music therapy is used to support the physical, mental, emotional and social needs of patients. I collaborate with pretty much every department in the hospital to help patients achieve their larger therapeutic goals.

Can you give some examples of how you use music to help patients reach physical or social goals?


Recently, I worked with a pediatric patient who was struggling in physical therapy. She was in a lot of pain and afraid to even try standing or walking. She loved music, so I incorporated singing and playing instruments into her exercises, giving her rhythmic and melodic cues for when she should sit, stand or walk, and for how long. It gave her something enjoyable and fun to focus on and removed the fear of the unknown.

In another example, we were trying to get a group of men with brain injury to interact with each other, so we gave them tone chimes — they’re like little hand bells. We made it into a game of tag in which one person played his chimes toward someone and then that person played his toward someone else, and around the room it went. Suddenly, this group of people who weren’t looking at or talking to each other were smiling, laughing and engaging with each other! They were able to communicate and connect in a nonverbal way, while also creating beautiful sounds.

How does music therapy contribute to healing?


Music therapy supports the whole person — body, mind and spirit. It provides a nonpharmaceutical source of pain relief, boosts feelings of self-esteem and confidence, and uplifts people spiritually.

What’s your favorite part of your job?


Mostly, I love hearing people say that they feel better after engaging in music. Being in a healing environment and involving people in something that is spiritually fulfilling and emotionally uplifting is incredibly important and vital to the healing process. It’s very rewarding to provide that experience for people.

Watch April explain how music therapy is used to improve communication skills:

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