Music therapy in neonatal care: a framework for German speaking countries and Switzerland

Friederike Barbara Haslbeck, Monika Nöcker-Ribaupierre, Marie-Luise Zimmer, Leslie Schrage-Leitner, Verena Lodde


Music therapy in neonatal care reflects a growing area of multi- and inner disciplinary interest in practice and research. But what exactly characterizes best practice in neonatal music therapy? First guidelines already exist but the question remains what implications they have for the German-speaking area considering specific cultural issues. The German speaking Professional Circle of Neonatal Music Therapists aimed to address these questions by developing an overall framework from the three approaches typical of this region 1) recorded mothers voice 2) live vocal and 3) live instrumental music therapy. The group synthesized the members’ practical clinical expertise with the best available evidence, guidelines in neonatal music therapy and German guidelines for individualized developmental neonatal care. The paper presents this framework in a clear and applicable table with overall objectives, (contra-) indications and methods despite the specific approach. The two emerging key elements of this synthesizing process are the central role of the voice and the integration of the whole family in the therapeutic process. The framework should serve as a well founded guide enabling music therapists to offer best cultural adapted practice and to better position themselves as integrity among various related disciplines and opinions.

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