Sound Therapy at Women & Infants Hospital

A while back I was contacted by the Marketing Director of Women & Infants Hospital saying she would like to do an article on the sound therapy being offered at the hospital. I suggested that the best way for her to understand it would be for her to experience it for herself, so we set up a Sound Journey for a group of patients and staff at the hospital. This is the article that was inspired by that event.

Not long after that, the Providence Journal contacted me through the Integrative Care Program at the hospital. They were also interested in doing an article so I performed another Sound Journey there about two weeks ago, which was not only photographed but videotaped as well! I am told it will run on Sunday, January 17, 2016 in the "Thrive" section of the paper- there should also be some footage online. 

So this is all very exciting! 

Sound Therapy at Women & Infants Hospital 
by Susan McDonald

Women & Infants offers sound therapy for cancer patients and survivors
In a dimly lit room, lying on yoga mats with pillows and blankets for comfort, a handful of women were listening. So were their bodies.

Eyes closed, the sounds flowed over them – the deep tone of the Aboriginal didgeridoo wind instrument; the sonic reverberations of the Tibetan singing bowls; the whistling of air passing over the two reeds in the drone flute; the aquatic sounds of fingers rubbed along the top of the dolphin bowl.

This day in the Integrative Care Center at the Program in Women’s Oncology, the sounds were the therapy, offering a unique feeling of wellness to the women, all of whom have battled, or continue to battle, cancer.

“I thought I was relaxed at one point, then another part of my body would go down,” says Dori Gerhardt of North Kingstown after the session.

That was music to Rosie Warburton’s ears.

soundtherapy1 (2)“When you feel the sound resonate in your body, it’s definitely having an effect. When the frequency of the bowl is the same as the body part, it vibrates and vibrates and vibrates until the body lets it go,” explains Warburton (pictured here), a licensed massage therapist and sound therapist who has started conducting sessions at the Integrative Care Center.

Holistic sound, she continues, is a non-invasive blend of healing modalities using sound, music and frequency to restore balance and harmony to the physical, mental and emotional bodies.

For the sound therapy group session, Warburton sat for a bit surrounded by the tools of her trade – bowls of metal and crystal, flutes, and a Freenote xylophone that operates on the pentatonic scale so there’s no wrong note. During the session, she walks quietly and slowly among the women, often standing before each to create various sounds ranging from high-pitched to lower and more primal. Periodically, she offers soft words encouraging the journey.

The goal is to release tension and even pain, balance the body’s energy and calm the spirit.

“Sound just does it. You can go so deep in a short amount of time,” she says simply. “Take the didgeridoo. It stills the thoughts and when your thoughts come back, it’s connecting you to your feelings. You feel more grounded. And, as it’s grounding you, it’s taking you out of your body at the same time.”

Different sounds speak to different parts of the body because of their frequency. If she knocks a tuning fork against the palm of her hand, for example, she can place it on joints, muscles and various acupuncture points to render relief from aches. It worked for Roxanne Lucas of Providence, who has neuropathy in both of her feet. Placing the vibrating tuning fork on the joints in each foot brought her instant relief. Minutes later, Gerhardt was experiencing the same relief when the tuning fork was placed on her wrist, which requires a brace for the effects of her Lyme Disease.

“I can feel it tingling down in all of my fingers. That’s great!” she exclaims.

Warburton smiles as she works on helping people understand the healing powers of sound.

“All matter has a resonant frequency it will vibrate at, including the bones, organs and other parts of the body. When you can find that frequency, you can release trauma from the body,” Warburton explains. “One tuning fork has the same resonant frequency as nitric oxide, and therefore stimulates the relaxation response, increasing oxygen flow, activating the parasympathetic system, and decreasing pain, stress and anxiety.”

In addition to the group sessions, Warburton also offers private sessions at the Integrative Care Center, using a combination of tuning forks, massage and craniosacral therapy. The results are “incredibly relaxing” and can help to increase range of motion while decreasing inflammation in the client. She also visits with women hospitalized with cancer at Women & Infants to help ease their discomfort.

Anyone interested in group or individual sound therapy sessions through the Integrative Care Program at Women & Infants, integrative therapies are offered in Providence, Middletown, and South County, RI, and Fall River, MA. For appointments in Providence, call (401) 274-1122, ext. 7143; in South County or Middletown, call (401) 846-0042; or in Fall River, call (508) 235-3500.