Tuesday, March 24, 2015

State of the Heart Has New Music Therapy Intern

When Katie Chase was in the seventh grade, her teacher spoke to the class about music therapy. Chase, 22, is a Music Therapy Intern with State of the Heart Hospice. From early on in her life, she knew she wanted a career in music, but was not sure of the direction. The teacher’s comments were pivotal in her career decision.

“I like to see what music does for people,” explained Chase, who is from the state of Washington. She will receive her Bachelor of Music degree early this summer from the Colorado State University. “Music touches so many of our emotions,” added Chase who began her Music Therapy internship with State of the Heart Hospice in January of this year. After receiving her degree, she will take a Board Certification exam.

State of the Heart Hospice has two Board Certified Music Therapists: Amy Pearson and Ashlee Carder. Music therapy is included in the services provided by State of the Heart and is offered at no charge to the patient and family. The Music Therapist is an important part of the team of State of the Heart caregivers. Music therapy emerged in hospice care in the early to mid 1990’s and has become increasingly popular in the hospice world. Through the use of music therapy, a patient can realize improved quality of life, an easing of depression and the “opening of channels” for conversation. It is not unusual for a patient with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to suddenly recall songs from days gone by and sing along with the music therapist. Music therapy can also be a “pain masking agent” by offering distraction for the patient, and it helps relax patients who are experiencing breathing problems. State of the Heart Hospice is one of a few hospice programs in Ohio and Indiana offering a Music Therapy internship program.

Chase said she and her family had a memorable and positive experience with hospice care years ago. “My maternal grandparents were both under hospice care at the same time,” she stated. “Even though I was only about eight or ten at the time, I recall the family being grateful for what hospice did for my grandparents and for the family. It was a very difficult time for everyone. My grandparents died within six days of one another.”

She has experienced days when she says she had a good feeling about her internship and what her chosen career brings. “I was with one patient who did not express much about her emotions and feelings,” Chase said. “When we played hymns for her, she became very emotional and would cry each time. In this case, music gave her an outlet for expressing her emotions.” In another instance, she and another music therapist were with a male patient who was having a difficult day and was experiencing memory problems. “After we played some familiar music for him, he became more relaxed and joined us in singing,” she said. “ He told us that he ‘felt much better’ after the visit from the music therapists. The interesting thing is that prior to the music, he was having memory problems. After the music therapy session, he was able to recall information that he could not remember earlier.”

Amy Pearson, who has been a Music Therapist with State of the Heart for eight years, supervises Chase in her internship. “Katie has been a valuable addition to our music therapy department. Her warm personality and beautiful vocal abilities have been well received by our hospice patients and families,” Pearson said. “She has shown much growth in the past few months; I can’t wait to see her blossom to her full potential!”

Chase said that in the brief time she has been with State of the Heart, she has learned the importance of “the effectiveness of being yourself. You have to be truly present with that patient. If you are not fully engaged, you might miss some important things about the patient in what they say or don’t say, or in their actions. In most instances, the patient does not want a therapist; they just want to have someone with them.”

In July, Chase will marry her fiancé, Steven, who is also getting a degree in the music profession. Wherever they go, Chase said, their life will be one filled with music.

State of the Heart provides care for patients and families in eastern Indiana and western Ohio who are confronting a life limiting illness. For more information about Music Therapy, or any of the services provided by State of the Heart, visit the agency web site at www.stateoftheheartcare.org

Editor’s Note: Pictured is Katie Chase

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