FOR RELEASE: 1/17/2011Contact: John Cappiello, (203) 384-3637

Music therapy is part of the mental health repertoire at Bridgeport Hospital

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks or bend a knotted oak," wrote 17th century English playwright William Congreve in “The Mourning Bride.” Jazz legend Duke Ellington followed more than two centuries later with his comment, “Music feeds the soul.”

Writers and musicians have proclaimed the beneficial effects of music for centuries, and more recently psychiatric professionals are singing the same tune. Music therapy has become a mainstay in Bridgeport Hospital’s adult and geriatric psychiatry units. It is also part of collaborative efforts with art and recreation therapy in the hospital’s REACH child and adolescent outpatient programs.

“The benefits of music therapy are well known to psychiatric professionals and well documented in clinical studies,” says Bridgeport Hospital Chairman of Psychiatry Charles Morgan, MD, himself a music aficionado. “Think about it—many people unwind after a tough day at work or a difficult experience by listening to their favorite music.”

Dr. Morgan adds that the purpose of music therapy stretches far beyond making patients feel better. In patients being treated for dementia-related disorders, for example, music therapy is provided to reduce agitation, promote positive interactions with others and increase the opportunity for self-expression.

To demonstrate his commitment to music therapy, Dr. Morgan arranged for the purchase of an electronic keyboard for the geriatric psychiatry unit to help the staff engage and entertain patients.

“Music is a non-verbal, and in turn, a non-threatening form of expression,” says Elizabeth Paccione, a certified music therapist at the hospital who is adept at playing a number of musical instruments. Patients can use elements of music, such as rhythm, dynamics and tone, to help communicate. In addition, hearing a favorite song often evokes positive memories for people who may otherwise be confused or disoriented.”

Other goals of music therapy include improving mood, reducing agitation and anxiety, developing coping skills and increasing socialization. Approaches depend on individual or group needs, and include improvisation, drumming, songwriting, analyzing lyrics, singing, movement and relaxation.

“Staff members on our geriatric psychiatry unit were offered their very own drumming circle—with great response!” says Paccione.

Bridgeport Hospital is a 425-bed acute care teaching hospital serving Connecticut’s most populous city and surrounding towns. The hospital provides care to 20,000 inpatients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits each year at its main campus and satellite locations.

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Part of Yale New Haven Health System, Bridgeport Hospital is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties. The hospital admits more than 18,000 patients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits annually.