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Therapeutic Sound for Palliative Cancer Care

In memory of Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor (1956-2015) who helped inspire the expansion of the sound program at You Can Thrive.

Therapeutic sound and vibrational medicine can facilitate deep meditative states in individuals with cancer diagnoses. The distinctions between specific sound-based modalities may seem negligible but the difference between sound therapy and a therapeutic sound is significant.

Therapeutic sound practitioners use sundry instruments for various particular qualities. The harp, for example, is used for its polyphonic, non-invasive tones. Gongs create intense, symphonic vibrations. Singing bowls and Tibetan bowls each carry a pitch and accomplish overtone and harmonic layers. A skilled flautist can bend notes to hit calming intervals not ordinarily associated with the instrument. Similarly, voice can utilize the intentions of the instrumentalist with advanced dexterity and resonance.

Some of the reported benefits of this modality include an increased ability to disengage from unwanted habit patterns, enhanced state of equanimity, expanded focus, pain reduction, and restorative sleep.

Metastatic patients can benefit from a music-thanatology vigil, which can ensconce anyone at attendance with its expression of care. Music-thanatologists provide dynamic sound that is shaped to observed symptoms and recorded vital signs.

Sound therapists are licensed clinicians who examine a client's medical history and current symptoms and utilize sound in tandem with traditional psychotherapy.

In 2007, the British Journal of Surgery found evidence that preoperative music therapy could reduce the stress response to invasive surgery. Currently, the National Cancer Institute is investigating music therapy's ability to redress the pain associated with high-dose therapy in cancer patients.

For a therapeutic sound experience, plug in some head phones and check out NYC-based music-thanatologist Catharine DeLong's new harp recording.

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