The Expressive Therapies Department employs expressive therapists who function as members of the multidisciplinary health care team to provide treatment to long-term care residents. Expressive therapists provide treatment in close consultation with geriatric physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation therapists, nurses and life enhancement specialists.
Expressive therapists provide psycho-social support to HRC residents experiencing a wide range of difficulties, including adjustment to aging, life in long-term care, health status changes, depression, and anxiety. Residents with chronic psychiatric and neurological disorders may remain on the program for restorative care even after showing improvement in their adjustment.

By utilizing non-verbal properties of music, movement, and art, expressive therapists evaluate residents’ 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 residents can express themselves and feel an increased connection to others utilizing dance/movement, music, art, poetry, etc., as a vehicle for self expression.

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, improvisation and creativity are some of the tools utilized in treatment.

Expressive Therapy Groups

Groups are offered to meet the unique needs of residents:

  • Music Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Dance/Movement Therapy
  • Creative Connections Group
  • 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 resident 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
  • Reminiscing through visual art
  • Disruptive vocalization relief
  • Modified Tai Chi and Guided Relaxation
  • Palliative sessions, utilizing various modalities as needed
  • Russian language Music and Art therapy groups
  • Open Art Studio
  • Dance Group for Parkinson’s and Other Neurological Disorders

Individual Expressive Therapy

Available for residents 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 resident’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 intimacy
  • Level of physical ability

Referral Process

At HRC, residents 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 resident’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.