Music Therapy

The Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center has a part-time, licensed, board-certified music therapist on staff. She works with infants, adolescents and teens.  Music therapy is available to all pediatric patients, including the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, In-Patient, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.

What is music therapy?

The American Music Therapy Association has defined music therapy as "the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." (American Music Therapy Association definition, 2005).

Medical music therapy uses live music in order to address a variety of goals and to help enhance a patient’s quality of life.  Music therapists design individualized music sessions to assess, treat, and evaluate patients.  The patient objectives are specific to medical diagnosis and course of treatment.  Progress is documented in medical terms, not musical terms.  Music therapy is indicated for preemies through end-of-life patients.

What goals are addressed?
Goals that music therapists address in sessions include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety and Stress Reduction
  • Increase coping skills
  • Decrease Depression and Elevate Mood
  • Non-pharmacological Pain Management
  • Cognitive and sensory stimulation
  • Increasing comfort care
  • Increasing emotional support

The music therapist uses music to address non–musical goals including, but not limited to:

  • Gross Motor Goals (improve coordination through walking and moving to the beat)
  • Fine Motor Goals (strengthen and tone muscles by playing instruments)
  • Oral Motor Goals (improve lung functioning through singing and playing instruments)
  • Cognitive Goals (improve memory recall through lyric completion, etc.)
  • Psychosocial Goals (improve self-esteem and socialization through group activities and self-expression and music creation)

What does a Music therapy session involve?
Most Music Therapy is one-on-one within the patient’s room.  Parents and siblings are encouraged to participate when they can and when appropriate. Group sessions are also offered within the play rooms of the inpatient units.
Music Therapy techniques may include:

  1. Song writing
  2. Movement
  3. Guided imagery
  4. Lyric discussion
  5. Music assisted relaxation
  6. Singing
  7. Instrument play
  8. Improvisation,
  9. CD recording
  10. Legacy building

Referrals are accepted by child life specialists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, families, members of the clergy, and patients.

Music therapists have bachelors, masters, and/or doctoral degrees in music therapy and receive training in music, psychology, teaching, counseling, disease process and anatomy/physiology, in addition to a clinical 6 month internship. They are certified by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) and licensed by the New York State Education Department's Office of the Professions. Those who pass the national music therapy certification examination earn the credential Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) and those who are licensed in New York State are called Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT).  For more information:

Contact Music Therapy:
Jennifer L. Kilinski, MT-BC, NICU-MT, LCAT.            
Phone: 518-262-1970 (press # 2-voice mail)

To Make a Donation:
The music therapy program is funded solely through grants, gifts & donations. If you are interested in making a donation you may contact the Albany Medical Center Foundation at or call us at 518-262-3322.  (Please identify Music Therapy.)