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Spotlight on music therapy to support children and young people in hospital

Music can be a positive and powerful force for healing. That's why music therapist Clare Rosscornes loves her job working with children and young people with physical and mental health challenges.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I have been a music therapist for 15 years. Before that, I worked as a primary school teacher, in mainstream and special education. I always knew that I wanted to use music as therapy. After ten years of teaching I took a training course at Anglia Ruskin University.

What is music therapy?

It’s an established psychological clinical intervention that helps people whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability. It supports their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs, based on the therapeutic relationship established through live musical interaction and play.

What does a normal workday look like for you?

I work on paediatric wards and with outpatients, seeing individuals and pairs for sessions. Alongside the play teams, I identify those that might benefit from music therapy, either for a one-off session or weekly, if they are long-term patients. I might work with a child who is withdrawn or has been in hospital for some time, or it could also be a child who is on a neuro rehab journey.

Patient Jess with her music therapist Clare Rosscornes. Jess is sitting up in bed with a keyboard on her lap.
Jess, who was a patient on C2 ward, really enjoyed her music therapy sessions with Clare

Sometimes Jess would look quite low when we left her, but we’d come back after a music therapy session, and she was a different child.

Jess's mum Anita

It sounds like you really enjoy what you do.

Using music therapeutically is such a joy! It really brings people together and can be such a powerful and positive healing force. It’s beneficial for people of all ages. Music is a universal language that knows no boundaries.

How important is music therapy for children and young people?

Children and young people who find themselves in hospital are often dealing with trauma. They find that so much has been taken out of their control. Music therapy can offer them the opportunity to take some control back and engage in a positive and enjoyable activity. This can really help with the healing process.

Why is the Cambridge Children’s project and its collaborative approach so important?

Cambridge Children’s is bringing together the two strands of physical and mental health and focusing on the whole child. That is really exciting! I already work in a collaborative way with the multi-disciplinary team at CUH and I am excited about developing this further with the arts therapy team, and colleagues from CPFT.

You're joined Cambridge Children’s Staff Reference Group. Why was that important for you?

I am aware that the music therapy team at CUH is very small - there are just two of us! I work mostly with inpatients and my colleague Dawn Loombe works with outpatients. I wanted our voices to be heard.

Are you hoping music will play a major role at Cambridge Children’s?

Yes, I hope so. Music is so powerful in so many ways. We will be able to provide a more comprehensive service across all ages and disciplines, bringing together the expertise of the arts therapy team from CPFT along with our existing service.

  • If you are a member of staff at CUH, CPFT or the University of Cambridge who would like to join the Staff Reference Group, you can find out more information here.