Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Donna C. Owens


This capstone thesis explores music therapy treatment for preterm infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. The first section outlines developmental considerations and interventions for preterm infants which include minimizing stress, prioritizing sleep, developing feeding behaviors, and promoting strategies for self-regulation of the infant. Both standard care and music therapy interventions are included in this discussion. The second section includes considerations and interventions for attachment and social development. These include skin- to-skin contact between infant and caregiver, the importance of emotional closeness in the infant-caregiver relationship, and supporting parents as they interact with their child in the hospital environment. The third section makes two claims: (a) secure attachments with caregivers facilitate healthy social functioning later in life and (b) music therapy can help create these attachments. Communicative musicality and creative music therapy are two methods that can be incorporated into existing models of NICU care to help create and strengthen bonds between preterm infants and their caregivers. The purpose of this capstone thesis is to improve treatment outcomes for preterm infants through music therapy and to provide rationale for the development of NICU-MT programs to support this population.

Keywords: preterm infants, communicative musicality, creative music therapy, attachment

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