Music Therapists Louise and Karen stand together, smiling at Perth Children's Hospital.

We all love music, but did you know it has the power to manage symptoms, rehabilitate and improve lives? Meet, HSUWA Members Louise and Karen, incredible Music Therapists who work closely with children at Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH).

Music therapy is an established allied health profession where clinicians focus on the unique physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of their patients.

As Karen explained, “Music therapy can help people of all ages to manage their physical and mental health and enhance their quality of life.”

Music Therapists work with people in hospitals, schools, residential care and the community.

At PCH, Louise works with infants, children and adolescents receiving treatment at the Oncology and Haematology Departments. Karen works with the same age groups in the Acquired Brain Injury, Neurology and Spinal Teams, providing music therapy treatment as part of acute and subacute care.

Their important roles have been made possible with funding from not-for-profit organisations, with Louise’s supported by Redkite and Karen’s supported by the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation. With more funding, music therapy programs could be expanded.

Louise said, “Having the opportunity to use music with patients and their families in the hospital setting is both rewarding and a great privilege, no two days are ever the same.”

Louise elaborated, “In the children’s hospital setting, music therapy can look like so many different things! Writing a song to process a new diagnosis, creating an energizing musical jam to reduce the patient’s anxiety, receptively listening to live music to aid in reducing pain during a procedure, or being involved in active music making to assist a patient achieve their cognitive, language or physical rehabilitation goals.”

There is often no one-size-fits all approach to music therapy.  The goal is “to use musical interactions to address the individualised needs of the patient,” said Karen.

To become a registered Music Therapist, you need to complete a post-graduate qualification (it’s currently offered as a Masters degree) in music therapy and meet registration requirements with the Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Music Therapists, like other allied health professionals, are required to undertake ongoing professional development to ensure they continue to meet best practice guidelines.

Music Therapists who complete the Masters level qualification come from a variety of professional backgrounds, for example music teaching, occupational therapy and speech pathology.

As an established health profession, the HSUWA supported an application for Music Therapists to be properly recognised as such within the industrial agreement. 

Louise said, “The HSU was instrumental in supporting us to achieve recognition as an allied health profession and this has translated to more appropriate remuneration and recognition of the role at a systems level.”

Both Louise and Karen feel that Union membership is important to them because having a strong collective behind them is so important for ensuring that they are not only appropriately remunerated for the level of skills and training they bring to the role but also supported in the workplace.

So, the next time you listen to or play a piece of music, think of the inspiring Music Therapists in Western Australia- using music to help patients cope, rehabilitate and recover.

Our health workforce community is strong because of Members like Louise and Karen. If you aren’t a member yet, join the HSUWA today!

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