Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

Music Therapy

At the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, board-certified music therapists help patients reduce the disruption of cancer in their life. In addition to our state-of-the-art medical care, we offer music therapy, which has been shown to improve well-being and quality of life during and after cancer treatments. 

Why Music Therapy?

As defined by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), music therapy is “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program” (AMTA, 2013). 

Music therapy sessions can help meet patients and their caregivers’ psychological, physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs. Interventions include, but are not limited to, music listening, guided imagery and music, singing, songwriting, lyrics and music discussion, and improvisation to address target goal areas.

 Benefits of music therapy in the medical setting include:


  • Improve quality of life
  • Decrease feelings of isolation
  • Provide an increased sense of control
  • Encourage emotional expression
  • Provide the opportunity for patients and families to explore spiritual beliefs
  • Assess current coping skills
  • Promote positive communication and memory sharing with caregivers and family
  • Build community as a family or with other patients and staff in the clinical setting


  • Change heart rate depending on patient needs
  • Decrease blood pressure, body temperature, and respiration rate


  • Stimulate conscious or unconscious body movements
  • Distract during painful or anxiety-provoking procedures 

What Happens in a Music Therapy Session?

Board-certified music therapists are trained to use a variety of evidence-based techniques and methods of applying music to foster therapeutic outcomes for patients and families.

Through discussion and observation with patients and caregivers or referral from medical staff, a music therapist will conduct an assessment in relation to the patient’s social, emotional, physical, or physiological needs and well-being. A patient’s musical background and music preferences will be identified and used as a reference as the music therapist designs goals and interventions to meet the patient’s immediate or future needs. While sessions are centered around experiencing music within the therapeutic relationship, patients do not need to be a musician or have a musical background to benefit from music therapy services.

How to Request a Music Therapist

A patient or caregiver can request a music therapist at any time. Ask our doctors, nurses, or other hospital staff, and they will contact the music therapy team. 

For more information, please contact Alex Huffman, LCSW, at​ 214-645-2742.