What Is Harp Therapy?
Have You Heard of Harp Therapy?
I must admit that I had not heard of harp therapy until I recently had occasion to photograph a professional harpist. I had some vague idea of the concept of music therapy but was completely unaware of the unique specialty of harp therapy. The harpist I photographed, Katherine Honey, has played before presidents and in many professional roles but is now dedicating some of her amazing skill and talent to therapeutic performances in homes and clinical environments. I found this unique concept fascinating and decided to share some of what I learned with others through this article.
The photographs in this article are some of the graphics I created for professional harpist and harp therapist, Katherine Honey. If you want to learn more about her, her musical offerings and harp therapy you can visit her website at Katherine Honey.com.
An Introduction To Harp Therapy
Harp therapy is a general term that applies to a variety of therapies in which the harp is used. Effective harp therapy almost always involves an in-person or live performance. I found it interesting to note that canned or recorded music doesn't provide the same level of benefit as a live performance. I suspect this is because music is a form of communication. Communication requires a sender, a medium and a receiver. The harpist is the sender, music is the medium and the patient is the receiver. The communication link between harpist and patient is intimate and personal. Medical science has long been aware of the healing benefits of personal contact, harp therapy is highly beneficial form of personal contact. Music can touch us at a deep level and take us to a pleasant place. The skilled harp therapist can reach through pain, anxiety or mental fog to take the patient on a musical vacation that can have lasting benefits.
Why a harp? Somehow the harp seems to be the ideal musical instrument for music therapy. Research is ongoing but I'm not sure that we know exactly why the harp works better than most other instruments. That said, I don't have difficulty imagining the benefits of a harp as compared to a banjo or tuba in the operating room. Neither have I come across much on tuba therapy. Historically we have associated harps with angels and ethereal music. Harps and harp music are frequently mentioned in Scripture (Isaiah 16:16, 2 Kings 3:15, Psalm 33:3 & 71:22, Revelation 5:8).
Let's See What You Know About Harp Therapy
Have you ever heard of harp therapy?
Specific Applications of Harp Therapy
Harp therapy can be provided in homes or clinical settings. The need determines the setting and since harps come in a variety of sizes, there is always a harp for the setting. The objective of harp therapy is not entertainment. It can be entertaining for some on the periphery but harp therapy targets patients and is "tuned" to the specific needs of the patient.
Harp therapy has proven beneficial in a number of situations or circumstances. Following are some common locations or situations where harp therapy has been beneficial to patients, family and medical staff:
Neo-natal and pediatric environments
Alzheimer's, dementia, cancer and burn patients
Palliative and hospice environments
End of life transitions
A Brief Video And Commentary on Harp Therapy
Specific Benefits of Harp Therapy
Music has long been employed in department stores, nightclubs, and restaurants to influence mood and atmosphere. Now, ongoing research is finding that music therapy has a statistically measureable and significant benefit in healthcare. Demonstrated benefits include:
Reduced stress and anxiety
Decreased respiratory and heart rate in cancer patients
Shortened hospital stays
Improved cognition and decreased confusion
Shortened hospital stays are a significant statistic in that it not only saves money but it more than offsets costs associated with harp therapy. Everybody benefits.