Therapeutic Harp

A therapeutic harp service is based on using the intrinsic healing elements of live harp music in healthcare, hospice and the community. The music is offered to individuals at the bedside and   is adapted to the support the healing of the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the person at that time. We define healing as movement toward mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wholeness. (NSBTM)

In particular the harp historically has been used to soothe, comfort and support people. It is a resonant beautiful poly phonic instrument used to soothe the human spirit since ancient times.

Therapeutic harp –  Providing Music for your Health and wellbeing 

Evidence based research has shown that music as a complementary modality is not only good for our health but can promote feelings of wellbeing. Music can provide a variety of touchstones for  social, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological health.

Music can:

  • uplift, energise and provide joy.
  • Promote a sense of relaxation and elevate mood.
  • Encourage mindfulness, stillness and contemplation.
  • enhance quality of life to all regardless of physical or emotional  abilities or limitations.
  • Reduce isolation and provide social connection
  • Allows for rest, refreshment and renewal.
  • Can assist with expressing emotions including grief, joy,

In a healthcare facility music may:

  • Assist with transition at end of life,
  • Cultivate and promote  a quiet space where sleep and deep rest can occur.
  • Provide distraction and motivation.
  • provide a welcoming and calm space within all hospital and community areas
  • Augment pain medication and assist in pain management
  • Encourage reminiscence, assist mental clarity and stimulate memory.
  • Reduce stress as the body relaxes and breathing settles and deepens
  • Relax patients prior to surgery and ease stress post surgery.
  • Regulate heart rate, blood pressure and stimulate immune function.
  • May assist nausea, fatigue, depression and anxiety
  • Change the soundscape of a busy healthcare facility
  • enhance the experience of a patients hospital stay
  • Music can also be combined with other complementary wellness therapies such as massage, meditation, aromatherapy, yoga, tai chi and reiki/touch for health.
  • I also work with a massage therapist to provide a weekly harp and massage service in oncology.

What is a Therapeutic Harp Service?   Frequently asked questions. 

A therapeutic harp service offers harp music in healthcare, hospice and the community.It is a compassionate service. The music is offered  to create a quiet restful space to uplift, comfort, offer deep rest and provide support. The music is personalised at the bedside of patients who may be facing physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. It is in these restful quiet spaces that inner resources can be gathered and developed.

There is no specific repertoire, desired outcome or requirement of the patient. During a visit a person may choose to listen, talk, sleep or rest while I listen, observe and respond to whatever is beneficial for the patient at that time. Therefore each patient and visit will be unique.

Music won’t change a diagnosis or treatment plan but for a short period of time the patient can close their eyes, rest or sleep and enjoy some much needed relaxation in a  busy hospital ward .

How is it different from a musical performance?

In my experience the use of the harp in healthcare lies in the healing arts rather than being performance based. There is no set program or repertoire but both familiar and improvised music may be used to meet the needs of the patient. Therefore the patient is the focus rather than the harpist. The music is simple and the more unwell someone is the less complicated the music offered. Practitioners actively observe the patient’s breathing; body movements, facial expressions and comments to tailor the music to the patient’s immediate needs.

How is my training different from other music programs?

A Harp therapy practitioner has a broad range of skills and the training includes subjects in music, medicine and communication skills. It is a vocational field and learning is ongoing.

I have qualifications in therapeutic harp, nursing, mindfulness based stillness meditation, art therapy , counselling and spiritual care. All are invaluable in providing a unique integrated program.

Can I train to be a therapeutic harpist in Australia?

There are a variety of pathways to training. Information regarding training can be found in the links page.

Music can support a holistic view of health which believes that the physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of a person are interconnected and their very interconnectivity is essential to improving health and wellness.(Filipa Pereira-Stubbs Churchill report 2014)

How is the service funded? 

Currently the service is being funded by donations to the “Therapeutic Harp Program” These donations are administered by the Canberra Hospital Foundation. Donations to the Therapeutic harp program would be valued and appreciated and can be made by contacting the foundation or following this link.

Where can music be offered? 

Music can be offered in all healthcare areas including hospice, acute care, surgical, paediatrics, mental health, general wards, aged care, dementia units, maternity, theatres, oncology, medical wards, NICU, ICU emergency department, hospital foyers respite care and community facilities.

What harps do you use? 

The Harp possesses unique acoustic qualities which provide a soothing calming tone. It is an ancient Instrument and has long been associated with the Healing Arts. I am fortunate to play a 31 string Minstrel Harp, a 33 string troubadour harp, a 26 string stony end harp and a small Reverie Harp in the hospital. These Harps have a wide pitch range and a unique warm sound making them wonderful instruments for use in healthcare. We also have two 22 string cardboard harps that may be loaned to long term patients. The harp I use depends on the nature of referral and needs of the patient.


How do I make a referral

Contact me directly at or

To make a donation

The Canberra Hospital Foundation office at:

Phone: 02 51243542