Musical hugs

Musical hugs

By In Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme On 1 March, 2016


Author: María Lázaro Photos: Latinstock

Music Therapy in Hospital: Musical Intervention, Therapeutic Counseling is an initiative of Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme included within the Abrazos [Hugs] program which it runs in four hospitals in the Canaries, helping to channel patients’ physical and emotional problems.

“We bring music therapy to hospitals in the Canaries. We encourage patients to accompany us and play an instrument with us whenever possible. And we even get family members to participate in the music therapy sessions.” This is the work performed day after day by Guacimara Molina Sosa, a Psychology graduate with a Teaching degree, specializing in Musical Education, as well as a Master’s Degree in Advanced Music Therapy and its applications.

Guacimara Molina is also the project coordinator of Music Therapy in Hospital: Musical Intervention, Therapeutic Counseling, which is included within the Abrazos program that Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme started up from its Social Action Area. There are currently four professional music therapists who form part of the project promoted by Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme, bringing music to four hospitals in the Canaries. The sessions can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour, depending on the needs of patients, and they may be individual or group sessions.

Given that music therapy is a complementary therapy, it is performed as an interdisciplinary activity, taking into account the opinion and work of the medical, educational and psychological professionals interacting with the patients: “Before working with patients, we meet up with doctors and ward managers in a clinical session for them to tell us which patients to work with and what goals to set ourselves,” Molina explains. Music therapy can be used to address such diverse problem areas as communication (with doctors or relatives), at the emotional level, or breathing and pain, at the physical level.

Guacimara Molina: “There’s no need for knowledge of music, just being ready to receive it”

Four hospitals in the Canaries have signed up for music therapy

The project was initiated in October 2014 at the C.H.U. Insular-Materno Infantil teaching hospital complex on Gran Canaria, formed by two hospitals. Seeing the results, in February of this year the initiative was expanded to the Doctor Negrin University Hospital, also on Gran Canaria, and to the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria University Hospital on Tenerife. This proved possible

following the agreement reached between Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme and the Regional Health Department of the Canary Island Government on January 25, 2016. This agreement consolidates music therapy as a complementary therapy in the recovery and/or accompaniment processes of different treatments the very ill must endure. The benefits observed include an improvement in their quality of life and a mitigation of the effects of hospitalization, such as social isolation, lack of stimulation or dealing with a range of negative feelings (stress, fear, apathy, etc.).

Both children and adults benefit from music therapy

The project targets different patient populations, striving to ameliorate their stay through music during the time they are hospitalized. At the same time, it serves as a means of expressing their feelings and emotions in the new situation in which they find themselves.

Guacimara Molina: “We are starting to offer sessions for health care personnel, as preventive work”

For children, being admitted in the oncology, specialty or infectious diseases wards means a total break from their daily lives, school, everyday activities, family gatherings, etc. The music therapy sessions are intended to help alleviate the daily routine of hospitalization and offer accompaniment during the hospital process, as well as provide a way of channeling emotions in the new situation these children have to face.

The musical notes also reach the adults. Specifically the cancer patients, for whom music entails a search for new strategies to face a new reality marked by the disease, the treatments and the consequences on a personal and professional level, while, at the same time, providing a space in which to freely express their emotions.

It is also present in the palliative care area. Music treats the emotions and is an avenue of expression for both the adults who are hospitalized and for their relatives, as well as for the professionals who work in this area – those who seek to improve the quality of life of these patients – facilitating an environment of comfort and tranquility at difficult times.


“Music therapy is the professional use of music and its elements as an intervention in medical, educational and everyday environments with individuals, groups, families or communities who seek to optimize their quality of life and improve their physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health and well-being. Research, practice, education and clinical training in music therapy are based on professional standards according to cultural, social and political contexts.” This is the definition of music therapy offered by the World Federation of Music Therapy in 2011.

As a phenomenon linked to all cultures, music is immersed in our everyday activity, as well as being linked to moments of leisure, producing effects on every aspect of an individual. At the physiological level, it is capable of controlling our breathing, muscle activity, brain waves, etc. At the emotional level, it helps us express our emotional states and modifies our moods. At the cognitive level, it stimulates our imagination and creativity, helps with learning, improves our short and long-term memory, etc. Finally, at the social level, it encourages social integration, as well as dialog and communication between the members of a group.

Guacimara Molina (second from the left), project coordinator of Music Therapy in Hospital: Musical Intervention, Therapeutic Counseling, together with other professionals who form part of the project. In the picture below: Guacimara during one of the sessions offered in four hospitals in the Canaries.

Caring for the health professionals

Health care professionals as a whole are subjected to high levels of stress. In order to create a personal attention space for these professionals, music therapy sessions were started up for them at the Insular Hospital in January 2016. “Once a month we now offer sessions for health care workers. This is preventive work to deal with the pressures they face,” Molina points out.

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