Music Therapy

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “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.”

How can Music Therapy help me?

Clinical interventions are based on scientific research that shows music therapy can:

  • Alleviate pain
  • Enhance relaxation and reduce anxiety
  • Improve sleep
  • Lift mood and enhance expression
  • Improve quality of life

Megan formerly worked as the Board Certified Music Therapist for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

During her years at UM, Megan offered individual, family and group therapy interventions for patients, caregivers and family members. She also coordinated all environmental music in the lobby and waiting areas by trained area musicians to promote a relaxing atmosphere for all patients, families and staff. In addition, she compiled a “Healing Music to Go” collection of approximately 50 CD’s that patients could check out at the Patient Education Resource Center.

How are Music Therapists Trained?

Music Therapy is a recognized healthcare profession. Therapists must complete a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. at an accredited university program, a 1040-hour internship and pass a national board certification exam. Therapists are trained to use music to address body/mind/spirit and therapeutically address specific goals. Degree programs offer courses in psychology, counseling, physiology and anatomy, in addition to courses in music therapy, performance, theory, and composition. In addition, music therapists are proficient on 4 instruments; piano, guitar, voice and one instrument of their choosing.


We ended the day by sitting in a circle of chairs with our eyes closed for at least 30 minutes, while Megan Gunnell played the harp and verbally led us to a land of tranquility and peace.  I literally was in a level of deep relaxation the entire time.  I didn’t want the day to end.  We all went home refreshed and rejuvenated with our stress levels greatly reduced.  UNBELIEVABLE!

Megan’s harp is like angels singing and hugging us all.  I haven’t been that relaxed in a very long time.  It was a gift that keeps on giving long after its done.

What is a typical music therapy session like?

Music has been used for centuries as a form of healing. Here, sessions are individually tailored to meet the needs of each unique patient and/or family member. From active music listening to music and visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, or interventions to promote better rest and sleep; sessions can assist patients in their self-awareness and enhance their coping skills. Other interventions may include creative expression such as song writing or music improvisation to help express things and aid in coping.Participants do not have to have any musical background to benefit. Most sessions are 45-60 minutes long. The music therapist typically uses live music (provided on Celtic harp, guitar, keyboard or other instruments) to engage the patient in active participation or provide receptive music that specifically addresses the therapeutic goals of the session.

Megan offered medical music therapy from 1997 – 2009.  Currently, she offers Guided Imagery and Music Sessions in her psychotherapy practice and uses the harp in local workshops and retreats for music based relaxation sessions.

Music designed for relaxation and wellness

Megan Gunnell and John Steffenson
composed original tracks of music designed for relaxation and wellness.
Click on a title to listen.
Visit U of M Music Therapy site.