Parents as nurturing resources: A family integrated approach to music therapy for neonatal procedural support.

Alexandra Ullsten, Tarja Pölkki, Claire M. Ghetti



Family integrated music therapy approaches may contribute significantly to the prevention and management of procedural pain in infants, and the discipline of music therapy requires more sophistication in understanding how and why. In this perspective article, we advocate for the unique role parents play in neonatal pain management and for the importance of supporting and educating parents to actively engage in music therapy as procedural support. Infant-directed singing can be an apt medium for parents and infants to communicate in affective mutual relationship during painful procedures. Music therapists can collaborate with parents in a way that positions parents as experts and assures they are empowered in their roles. In doing so, music therapy both coordinates with and extends the interdisciplinary team’s initiatives to provide individualized, family integrated developmental care. Neonatal pain research is an interdisciplinary field where music therapy has just started to publish results. Theory development is essential in advancing music therapy research and practice in this field. In our perspective paper, we present the theoretical underpinnings of a family integrated approach to music therapy as neonatal procedural support where parents are the primary (re)sources for nurture and pain alleviation.

Keywords: music therapy, parental infant-directed singing, family integrated care, procedural support.


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