The use of music in facilitating emotional expression in the terminally ill

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The expression and discussion of feelings of loss and grief can be very difficult for terminally ill patients. Expressing their emotions can help these patients experience a more relaxed and comfortable state. This paper discusses the role of music therapy in palliative care and the function music plays in accessing emotion. It also describes techniques used in assisting clients to express their thoughts and feelings. Case examples of three in-patient palliative care clients at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care are presented. The goals set for these patients were to decrease depressive symptoms and social isolation, increase communication and self-expression, stimulate reminiscence and life review, and enhance relaxation. The clients were all successful in reaching their individual goals.

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