617-363-8000

The Expressive Therapies Department employs expressive therapists who are mental health counselors, utilizing Arts as treatment modality. They function as members of the multidisciplinary health care team to provide treatment to our patients. Expressive therapists provide treatment in close consultation with geriatric physicians, psychiatrists, psychologist (s), social workers, rehabilitation therapists, nurses and life enhancement specialists.

Expressive therapists provide psycho-social support to patients experiencing a wide range of difficulties, including adjustment to aging, health status changes, depression and anxiety. Patients with chronic psychiatric and neurological disorders are most often referred and assessed for ET treatment with their progeress monitored via Meditech clinical documentation.

By utilizing non-verbal properties of music, movement, and art, expressive therapists are able to provide support to patients whose cognitive and verbal abilities are impaired. They evaluate patients’ levels of emotional needs and abilities, and subsequently develop a treatment plan.

This is accomplished through weekly groups and/or individual treatment on the units which seek to maintain consistency of time, place and membership to facilitate the therapeutic process.

The overall goals of treatment are to provide a safe, secure setting in which patients can express themselves on both verbal and non verbal levels and feel an increased connection to others that in turn decreases their level of distress and psychological discomfort.

Treatment Methods

Music, Dance and Art modalities are applied within individual or group therapy sessions to remediate communicative deficiencies and restore verbal and non-verbal means of self-expression that eventually provide overall sense of well being and connection to others and the environment.  Guided imagery and mindfulness techniques are additional tools utilized in treatment.

Expressive Therapy Groups

Groups are offered to meet the unique needs of our patients:

  • Music Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Dance/Movement Therapy
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Therapeutic Drumming

Specialized Services

In addition to the regular weekly music, movement, art or intermodal therapy support groups, the department conducts several specialized programs that address specific patient needs and/or provide enrichment and support. They include:

  • Drumming Circle to decrease behavioral issues
  • Neurologic Music therapy (Stroke, Parkinson, TBI symptoms)
  • Pain and Anxiety relief through Music therapy and Guided imagery
  • Disruptive vocalization relief
  • Modified Tai Chi and Guided Relaxation
  • Dance for Parkinson’s and Other Neurological Disorders group
  • Palliative and Hospice support, utilizing various modalities as appropriate

Individual Expressive Therapy

Available for patients who are not yet appropriate for a group setting, or who need more focused individual contact than a group can provide. One objective of individualized therapy is to facilitate the patient’s ability to integrate into a group experience, with increased tolerance for contact, and capacity for genuine, sustained, mutually satisfying interaction. Considerations for referrals to individual therapy include:

  • Level of depression
  • Level of resistance
  • Level of insight
  • Level of tolerance for group environment
  • Level of physical and sensory impairment

Referral Process

At HRC, patients are referred to Expressive Therapies by medical providers. Family members who are interested in finding out if Expressive Therapies is an appropriate treatment for their loved one should speak with the patient’s nurse or primary care provider.  

Internships for Expressive Therapy Graduate Students

Graduate students in Expressive Therapy are offered a nine-month clinical internship in Music Therapy and Intermodal Expressive Therapy. Interns participate in co-leading and leading groups and individual sessions, and receive one hour of weekly supervision from a licensed staff member. Interns gain knowledge about expressive therapy applications with the geriatric population and are exposed to working in a hospital setting and function as a member of a multidisciplinary team. The training includes electronic clinical documentation, MDS, and Meditech.

To learn more about internship opportunities, please contact Regina Dain, M.M., M.A., C.M.T./L.M.H.C. – Expressive Therapies, Clinical Supervisor/Music Therapist at dain@hsl.harvard.edu or at 617-363-8389.