UK HealthCare

Discovering the Healing Powers of Music, Music Therapy


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 27, 2011) — As Lori Gooding, University of Kentucky's music therapy director and a board-certified music therapist, walks into Joshua Diven's patient room at Kentucky Children's Hospital (KCH), the 3-year-old's face lights up. This is the second time that Gooding and Shane Swezey, a music therapy intern, have visited Diven in the past four days. Gooding has also worked with Joshua on previous visits to KCH.

“These sessions are something that Josh really looks forward to, and it’s so great to see him smiling and having such a good time,” said Jessica Divens, Joshua's mother. “You can see a big difference in his mood after he’s been singing and playing music with them.”

Joshua is one of approximately 20-30 patients that Gooding sees on a weekly basis. Currently, clinical services are offered at Kentucky Children’s Hospital and Good Samaritan Behavioral Health Services, with plans in place to expand as resources become available.

“Being a music therapist allows me to take something that I love and use it to make a difference in the lives of the children and families that we serve at UK HealthCare," Gooding said. "Everyone should get to enjoy work as much as I do; it is a privilege to work with our patients.” 

The UK Music Therapy program, which was established as part of the Lucille Caudill Little Performing Arts in HealthCare Program, is a unique partnership between the UK School of Music and UK HealthCare. Since the program's inception in July 2010, Gooding has worked to establish its clinical, academic and research components. Educating the health care, university and local communities about the evidenced-based benefits of music therapy is a vital role in program development.

Graduate academic courses, which will be offered as part of Kentucky’s first master’s degree in music therapy, are tentatively scheduled to begin in the fall of 2011. Research opportunities, both within the field of music therapy and with other health care professionals, are being developed for faculty, clinicians and students.

“I am excited about the opportunities that the music therapy program will bring to UK," Gooding said, who received her doctorate in Music Education with an emphasis 

in Music Therapy from The Florida State University. "The program will provide our students with extensive training within the Healthcare system. Music therapy will help us improve patient-family centered care as well as assist the staff in meeting patients’ needs by reducing anxiety, alleviating pain and improving coping skills.”

Positive outcomes achieved through music therapy and music interventions discovered through clinical research include:

  • improved executive function and emotional adjustment in Traumatic Brain Injury rehabilitation (Thaut et al., 2009);
  • Improved coping-related behaviors in hospitalized children with cancer (Robb et al., 2008);
  • Improved patient satisfaction scores in patients receiving music therapy (Swedberg & Standley, in press); and
  • Decreased use of sedatives during medical procedures (Loewy, Hallan, Friedman, and Martinez, 2005; Walworth, 2005).

Arts in health care is a diverse, multidisciplinary field dedicated to transforming the healthcare experience by connecting people with the power of the arts at key moments of their lives. This rapidly growing field integrates the arts—including literary, performing, and visual arts and design—into a wide variety of healthcare and community settings for therapeutic, education, and expressive purposes.

For more information about the UK Arts in HealthCare program, visit:

View transcript of video here. Video by Amy Jones and Kody Kiser, UK Public Relations.

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