Using Harp Therapy to support people physically, emotionally and spiritually
Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC) is owned and operated by the Salvation Army.
It’s known for its clinical excellence and patient-centered care, but it’s also known for its compassion, which is why therapeutic harp practitioner Martha Lawrance is a perfect fit.
“I play prescriptive music for basically the physiological needs of a patient which could be spiritual, emotional and physical,” Lawrance said.
There are many benefits to Harp Therapy – it can help with depression, fear and anxiety, pain management and of course, relaxation.
“If someone is agitated when I walk into the room, I can calm them down, which means their heart rate and blood pressure will go down. They can breathe better, and quite often, they get so calm they fall asleep,” Lawrance said.
Lawrance began playing harp at age 10 volunteering her time in retirement homes and hospitals. She’s now certified through the International Harp Therapy Program out of California, and accredited through the National Standards Board of Therapeutic Musicians.
“I’ve been in the rooms with Martha, and I have seen how she’s touched the physical, the emotional and the spiritual, ”said Marie Hollett, Chaplain Director at TGHC. “ “When people are restless, got a bit of fear, anxiety – how she plays that harp and it just makes it peaceful.”
“My brother gets a lot of spasms in his arms – especially his left arm,” said Vilma Petricola, sister of Gabriel, who is a patient at TGHC.
“And when she (Lawrance) plays for him, he relaxes and you can see the tension in his arm go down.”
Four years ago, Lawrance volunteered her services at Toronto Grace until patients and staff became familiar with Harp Therapy and since then, it has become a wonderful addition at the TGHC.
“This absolutely is the most rewarding,” Lawrance said. “ I could never give this up. I can’t explain the feeling when I’m here, just to see the difference that I’m making at the bedside.”
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