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Music Therapy

Music therapy, person playing the guitarMusic therapy is an established health care practice that uses music-based practices to help improve your overall well-being. Medical music therapy can enhance your quality of life, increase self-awareness, and prevent or manage a range of physical and emotional symptoms through the use of live music and interactions with your music therapist.

Board-certified music therapists address physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual needs of people of all ages. Music therapists use the characteristics and elements of music to:

  • Reduce pain, anxiety, agitation and stress.
  • Decrease confusion.
  • Improve communication, self-expression and coping skills.
  • Enhance quality of life and spiritual comfort.
  • Increase sense of control.
  • Provide socialization and stimulation.
  • Increase relaxation and overall wellness.
  • Elevate mood.
  • Improve perception of treatment.

A wide variety of music is utilized, depending on patient preference and needs, and no musical experience or background is necessary. Our repertoire includes country, rock, bluegrass, folk, musicals, gospel, jazz and more.

For more information on music therapy, visit The American Music Therapy Association’s website.

For further information about music therapy services, email

For more information about the Creative Art Therapies Department, call Danielle Sizemore, administrative support for Creative Arts Therapies at 859-323-4895.

  • What Happens in a Music Therapy Session?

    Music therapy sessionMusic therapy is typically provided in the patient’s room, where the music therapist may sing and play guitar or other instruments. Patients and families are encouraged to engage in music making, or they may choose to just listen. No musical experience is required to participate in music therapy.

    Music is provided as part of other therapy treatments or as a therapy treatment of its own. Music alone is the therapy in many instances, such as a hymn providing spiritual comfort, a favorite song as distraction from pain or when music is used to calm agitation. Other times, music is used within therapy, such as discussing song lyrics, reminiscing about memories elicited by songs or playing an instrument to enhance physical rehabilitation.

    Common music therapy techniques include:

    • Lyric analysis
    • Songwriting
    • Instrument playing
    • Guided imagery/visualization
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Distraction
    • Counseling
    • Life review

    For more information on UK HealthCare music therapy services, contact us at

  • Locations

    UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital

    At UK HealthCare, we are committed to advancing leading edge music therapy to address the needs of patients across the healthcare system. In Chandler Hospital, music therapists are referred to adult in patients in a wide variety of service lines, including Medicine, Palliative Care, Hospice, Stroke/Neuro, Cardiology, ICUs, Emergency Department, Surgery, and other service areas as referred.

    Typical interventions might include Singing, instrument playing, songwriting, music-assisted relaxation, lyric analysis, and life review.

    Markey Cancer Center inpatient/outpatient chemotherapy clinic

    Music therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for people with cancer. Research suggests that music therapy can reduce anxiety, decrease the perception of pain and improve quality of life.

    As part of the integrative medicine team at Markey Cancer Center, our goal is to use music therapy to improve patient well-being and increase opportunities for patient- and family-centered care. Although music therapy is not entertainment, many patients and families perceive music therapy as an uplifting experience. In fact, music therapy is usually very enjoyable for recipients.

    Kentucky Children's Hospital NICU, NEO, PICU, inpatient, hematology-oncology

    Our dedicated pediatric music therapist provides music interventions to patients in the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, using voice, guitar, child-sized instruments, and other materials to provide support for procedures, a sensory environment and developmental activities.

    The music therapy program at Kentucky Children’s Hospital began in May 2016, thanks to the generosity of Alexandra Simpson Fund. At KCH, music therapy provides evidence-based interventions, by a board certified music therapist to assist pediatric patients in the achievement of non-musical goals related to their physiological and psychosocial needs.

    Often, listening to live patient preferred music is utilized to address pain management and relaxation; where singing, instrumental play and improvisation assists in self-expression and normalization of the hospital environment. The music therapy program serves ages birth to twenty-one years.

    Eastern State Hospital Recovery Mall, patient units

    Eastern State Hospital, managed by UK HealthCare, offers music therapy services to patients in its Recovery Mall and on the hospital units. The music therapist leads 45-minute music therapy groups that encourage participation through interventions like instrument playing, singing, lyric analysis, discussion/counseling, and songwriting. In one of the highest attended groups in the hospital, patients address therapeutic goals such as socialization, coping skills, relaxation, and psychoeducation in a nonthreatening manner they frequently enjoy.

  • Music Therapy Internship

    At UK HealthCare, music therapy is part of Rehabilitation Services and is closely affiliated with the UK Arts in HealthCare program. Music therapists provide a wide range of clinical music therapy services for patients with mental and physical health care needs and actively participate in research opportunities. Some of the common reasons for music therapy referrals include:

    • Patients with complex needs.
    • Patients with difficult situations.
    • Patients with pain and/or anxiety.
    • End-of life care.
    • Patients who have long-term and/or chronic healthcare needs.
    • Patients with difficulty engaging.

    The UK HealthCare Music Therapy Internship in Lexington, Ky., provides a number of opportunities for students interested in medical and mental health music therapy services. Interns will have the opportunity to :

    • Provide patient- and family-centered care in the acute and ambulatory medical settings.
    • Provide services for patients of varying ages and diagnoses.
    • Provide group services for patients with mental health needs.
    • Interact with several different music therapists.
    • Participate in projects, presentations, and specialized training (NICU).

    Mission: The mission of the University of Kentucky Music Therapy Program is to advance cutting-edge, evidence-based music therapy practices within the contexts of research, education and clinical care.  In order to demonstrate this mission, the program strives to be a leader in the use of music therapy in physical and mental health care while also providing high-quality services for those with communication, cognitive, emotional and social functioning needs.

    The internship program at UK is a hallmark of our clinical services. We strive to work individually with students as part of our clinical team to meet their educational and training needs. We invite you to consider pursuing an internship with us as you move toward board certification as a music therapist.

    Areas of service: Interning at UK HealthCare provides the opportunity to work throughout the medical setting including: The Kentucky Children’s Hospital (general floor, PICU, NICU), Behavioral Health Services (adolescent and adult, Eastern State Hospital), Markey Cancer Center, palliative and hospice patients, stroke, adult intensive care, general medical, additional adult settings as referred and pediatric outpatient support as requested.

    UK interns will have the opportunity to work with interdisciplinary teams, co-treat with SLP, OT and PT, develop a project in an area of their choosing, and more.

    Application process: All applicants must submit (a) the UK internship application, (b) unofficial transcripts and (c) two letters of recommendation. It is recommended that one letter be from a professor and one from someone who has knowledge of your therapeutic abilities. On-site interviews will be scheduled for those applicants who are selected as possible interns. Interviews via Skype may be considered for long-distance applicants.

    Start dates and application due dates: We have four start dates across the year, in January, April, July and October. Applications are due seven months before your desired start date. This allows offer letters to be sent out six months prior to starting.  Applications are due June 1 for January and April start dates. Applications are due Dec. 1 for July and October start dates.

    Out of state students please note: At this time Kentucky requires state authorization from universities sending students to intern from outside the state of Kentucky. This may include fees, applications or other processes. For further information, please visit Training in Music Therapy - National Roster of Internship Programs.


    Completed applications can be sent to: 

    Jessy Rushing 

    800 Rose St., Room H106 

    Lexington, KY 40536

    Acceptance: During the interview process, each applicant will be given a timeline for acceptance. Accepted applicants will be notified via email or phone and given one week to accept or decline the internship.

    Internship hours: All interns will be required to complete a minimum of 1,020 hours. The 1,020 hours will be completed across six months with additional hours as needed to meet competency requirements.

    Time off: Because the internship is calculated by hours, all missed time must be made up. Activities deemed to be music therapy-related by the Clinical Training Supervisor do not count as missed time. Completion of 1,020 hours across six months allows for approximately five days for emergencies, vacation and/or sick leave.

    Schedule: Internship hours will primarily be from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Occasionally, internship duties may require some evening and weekend hours. Each intern will be required to track his or her own hours.

    MT activities: Any special activities directly connected to the field of music therapy and completed during internship may apply toward internship hours; for example, attending a conference.

    Each intern is required to complete the following:

    1. Observe, co-lead and lead sessions as appropriate.
    2. Attend assigned meetings and presentations.
    3. Maintain all documentation as required.
    4. Participate in weekly supervision meetings.
    5. Participate in a midterm and final evaluation.
    6. Track all hours.
    7. Maintain a collection of appropriate songs, activities and related materials (worksheets, handouts, etc.) for each population served during the internship. This may be in file form, notebook form or electronic.  
    8. Continue to learn new songs for use with patients each week.
    9. Give presentations
    10. Complete one individualized project. This project will be determined in consultation with the internship supervisor and may consist of a research project, establishing services in a new area, creation of a resource appropriate to the program or other. 
    11. Maintain all communication, documentation, and/or administrative procedures set forth by the student’s educational director.
    12. Complete other tasks/assignments as assigned based on student/program needs.

    Tentative internship timeline:

    • Weeks 1-5: Orientation and observation 
    • Weeks 5-12: Co-leading and supervised leading 
    • Week 13: Midterm Evaluation 
    • Weeks 14-24: Independent leading as ready 
    • Week 25 or 26: Final Evaluation

    Please note: The timeline is subject to change based on individual needs and total number of hours required.

    For more information or to receive an application (see above link as well), please contact Jessy Rushing at