Music Therapy in Perinatal Psychiatry: Use of Lullabies for Pregnant and Postpartum Women with Mental Illness


  • Susan Hatters Friedman MD
  • Ronna S. Kaplan MA, MT-BC, NMT
  • Miriam B. Rosenthal MD
  • Patty Console MT-BC



Lullabies are a universal and ancient song form that play an important role in both comforting infants and providing a critical bonding experience, which has been borne out by research. An innovative lullaby program at an urban community music school was transferred to a Perinatal Mental Health Program at a community mental health center. Participants in the music therapy group include those with depression, bipolar disorder, or psychosis who were pregnant or postpartum, their infants, and various treatment team members. Goals of this cross-disciplinary novel program include mothers learning to use music to enhance self-expression, coping, inspiration, and relaxation. In particular, the program addresses how music might calm infants and respond to their distress. Barriers to such a program include funding issues, transportation, and recruitment. A lullaby music therapy program is a feasible component in the treatment of mental illness during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Author Biographies

Susan Hatters Friedman, MD

Susan Hatters Friedman, MD, is a perinatal and forensic psychiatrist on faculty at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in the Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ronna S. Kaplan, MA, MT-BC, NMT

Ronna S. Kaplan, MA, MT-BC, NMT, is President of the American Music Therapy Association, and Director of the Department of Music Therapy at The Music Settlement in Cleveland, Ohio.

Miriam B. Rosenthal, MD

Miriam B. Rosenthal, MD, is a psychiatrist who is Associate Profes- sor Emeritis at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry in Cleveland, Ohio.

Patty Console, MT-BC

Patty Console, MT-BC, is a board certified music therapist at The Music Settlement, who has led the Lullaby 101 groups in Cleveland, Ohio.



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