Nov. 27, 2002
CONTACT: Carol Anderson

EMU’s McAndless Professor Uses Music Therapy for All Seasons

– Whether they are cheery and upbeat or solemn and inspirational, holiday songs can help transform depressing winter blahs into a positive, festive attitude. But the holiday season isn’t the only time that music can help mold attitudes.

While most people experience this transformation through music during the holiday season, Cheryl Dileo uses music to facilitate change everyday.

Dileo, Eastern Michigan University’s 2002 M. Thelma McAndless Distinguished Professor in Humanities and professor of music therapy at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa., uses music therapy to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive or social functioning of an individual. She works with many different populations, from neonatal babies to patients in a hospice and says the type of music that works best is a personal preference.

“Dr. Dileo’s depth of knowledge and experience is diverse and inspiring. Her extensive research and relative impact in medical music therapy, professional ethics and music therapy education and training are clearly unmatched in the profession,” said David Woike, head of EMU’s music department.

“Initially, I ask the patient to make music,” said Dileo. They don’t need a musical background. It’s similar to having someone draw what they feel, she said. A therapist learns a lot about a patient’s communication style through music. Dileo designs music sessions based on individual needs using music improvisation, listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, and music performance.

Music therapy can help prisoners with issues of trust, aggression, anger and relationships. For older people, music stimulates memories. In a hospice, it helps patients resolve problems in life to gain closure. For cancer patients, music therapy can provide hope, said Dileo.

For the healthy person, music can improve self-expression and reduce stress. It also can relieve the pain of pediatric patients, stroke victims and those going through physical rehabilitation.

During the Fall 2002 semester at EMU, Dileo is teaching weekend courses; presenting campus-wide, interdisciplinary lectures; and appearing as a guest lecturer in classes. In addition, she will be teaching via distance learning. Her lectures include “Music, Mind and Body,” “Multicultural Therapy,” ”Music Therapy and Cancer,” “Wellness for Musicians,” and “Dual Relationships and Ethics.”

Dileo has worked for the past two years with patients in the Heart Failure Unit of Temple University’s hospital. Patients in this unit could stay anywhere from one day to a year or more.

“This is the most incredible work I have ever done,” she said. “The level of depression, despair and frustration is overwhelming. The patients are living between life and death waiting for a heart that may never come. When heart patients want to learn to play the guitar or get involved in music, I can see they have hope.”

Dileo and a colleague established the first Ph.D. program in music therapy at Temple University in 1999.
She has served in leadership positions for the National Association for Music Therapy and the World Federation of Music Therapy. Dileo is the only person to have served as both the first (and only) American president of the World Federation of Music Therapy and president of the National Association for Music Therapy.

In 1995, she received the Merit Award from the National Association for Music Therapy. She authored the model ethical guidelines of the World Federation of Music Therapy, Inc. and the code of ethics of the National Association for Music Therapy, Inc.

Dileo is the author/editor of 10 books and more than 70 chapters and articles on music therapy. She edited the first (and only) books on international music therapy practice and authored the first book on music therapy ethics. She also contributed the section on music therapy for the first Encyclopedia of Psychology.

Currently, she is a consulting editor for the International Journal of Arts Medicine, and the Arts in Psychotherapy. She is also a consultant grant reviewer for the National Institute of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The M. Thelma McAndless Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities was established in 1985 to bring distinguished scholars or educators to EMU for exchange programs and special appointments. The professorship is reserved for persons with national or international reputations in various arts and humanities areas.