Sound Therapy Perspectives: Pharmacist

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Hello! This is Jayson Napolitano, the administrator of this blog. I also happen to be a registered pharmacist who holds a passion for music. I wanted to kick off a series where we have different healthcare practitioners share their own personal experiences with sound therapy, and what better way to start than with my own?

My experience with sound therapy comes from interdisciplinary rounds at San Diego Hopsice & The Institute for Palliative Medicine where I functioned as a pharmacist among a group of physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual counselors, psychologists, and a number of integrative therapy practitioners including harp therapists, aromatherapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and many others.

The term rounds refers to the care team discussing each patient’s care plan, including updates for that given day, the patient’s goal of cares, ongoing issues with the family, etc. during this difficult time at the end of life. We would also visit patients in their rooms and talk to them about the issues that were concerning to them and their families.

While each specialist had a role to play, I’ll focus on my view of sound therapy. Several of the harp therapists who visited would note that their work does not simply provide entertainment; there’s a real science behind what they do that affects the body and mind in a more direct way. Two examples that come to mind are different musical modes that can be used to relieve stress or help a patient move their bowels when they are constipated, and using tempo to match an anxious patient’s breathing pattern before slowly decreasing the tempo to create a more calm state. While I never was present to see these techniques employed, several members of the team attested to the fact that they truly work.

Patients were so thankful to have our harp therapists available. It was really a special and magical place to practice pharmacy, being exposed to so many disciplines and being able to help our patients in so many different ways. Even when harp therapists were not present, they had prepared selections of music on CD for our patients to enjoy, often recordings of these specific techniques mentioned.

For those looking for a good place to start, at least as far as CDs are concerned, I recommend checking out the Hibino Sound Therapy Lab Vol. 1 CD on the HSTL shop. It features live chamber music composed by Norihiko Hibino to soothe and relax, and you can bet we had several copies on hand at San Diego Hopsice for our patients.

We will be talking with a harp therapist about these techniques very soon, so I hope this perspective piques your interest in the potential of sound therapy to really affect the human body. We believe in this idea very strongly at Hibino Sound Therapy Lab where we are researching the effects of sound waves on the body, both in the traditional sense in what your brain does with sound, but more experimentally in how the waves affect the human body at a cellular level.

Let us know about any experiences you’ve had with sound therapy. Maybe there’s a particular music CD that helps you relax? Can you imagine hearing it performed live in front of you?

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About Jayson Napolitano

As a hobbyist musician, music editor, and a pharmacist with experience working in palliative and end-of-life care, Jayson has a lot of thoughts on the therapeutic applications of music. He's seen it work wonders in his patients at San Diego Hospice & The Institute of Palliative Medicine and couldn't get through life himself without the calming effects of music.