Finding The Right Music Therapy

Last Modified: June 29, 2011

OncoLink Cancer FAQ

Can you recommend music that will help me to relax and would be good music therapy? Where can I buy this music?

OncoLink Cancer FAQ

Tony Meadows PhD MT-BC FAMI LPC is Director of Music Therapy at Immaculata University and Music Therapist at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, responds:

You can find Board Certified Music Therapists (always look for MT-BC) through There is also a webite for the American Music Therapy Association -

In some ways, selecting music is quite complex. Some people come into treatment with a music library that they love to listen to, and select music from that library, download it to the ipod, and listen during treatment. Other patients don't find this helpful, and the reasons why are quite diverse. There is no "single" music that helps you relax - alot depends on preference, combined with the way you are experiences stress (which, I assume is why you want to relax).

In finding helpful music for relaxation, you have two or three options. The first option is to search itunes useing keywords such as relaxation, quiet music, etc., then listen to samples, and select accordingly. You can also review sites such as for the music of Daniel Kobialka. Option two is to combine music with another modality such as imagery. If you search the Play Away website, you will see that they offer a number of pre-recorded downloadable programs that focus on specific symptoms such as stress and relaxation. Option three is more complex, and takes more of the complexity of relaxation into account - this also involves a music therapist! For some patients, relaxation primarily involves finding ways to release stress, center, and find a calm place, and music therapists offer a wide range of interventions, all music centered, to do so. However, for some people, feeling stressed involves more than going through a relaxation experience - stress can be an expression of deeper psychological distress that needs to be addresses both verbally and musically. For example, if a patient has an underlying struggle with depression, is experiencing financial distress, and has alot of side effects from treatment, then any intervention needs to address all these of these experiences.

Learn more in Tony's article about guided imagery & music therapy!

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. See full archive of IntegrativeTherapies in Cancer Care.