Integrative Medicine & Complementary Services

Pictured: Rocco Caputo Our integrative medicine offerings include touch therapy by massage therapists.

For children, adolescents, and young adults being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering, our integrative medicine team offers a variety of services to complement traditional medical care, including music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and touch therapy.

Music Therapy

For children and families who come to our pediatric department as inpatients or outpatients, our music therapists play and teach a variety of instruments to help ease fear and anxiety, enhance creative expression, manage symptoms, and promote relaxation and comfort. Your child is invited to play the instruments, sing songs, participate in story writing through song, or relax and listen to music. Music therapy can be a one-on-one experience in your child's hospital room or in a group music therapy session.

Mind/Body Therapies

Children and young adults can learn various relaxation techniques to help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Guided imagery, meditation, self-hypnosis, and similar therapies can help:

  • lessen pain, nausea, headaches, and insomnia
  • improve relaxation during procedures, treatments, long hospital stays, or stays requiring a child to remain in isolation
  • manage anxiety, stress, and depression
  • improve eating habits
  • decrease fears, such as anxiousness about needles or claustrophobia
  • increase the ability to cope with changes in body image, such as hair loss
  • enhance overall coping skills

These techniques can also build your child's self-confidence and empower you with ways to support both your child and yourself during stressful times.

Dance & Movement Therapy

Our dance therapists base their work on the principle that the body and mind are interrelated. Their aim is to help children use their bodies — through dance and improvised movements — to express their feelings and experiences. Dance therapists can gain insights into your child's emotional state by observing his or her movements.

Dance and movement therapy can help your child:

  • manage pain and other symptoms
  • improve self-esteem and body image
  • develop effective communication skills and relationships
  • create new options for coping with problems

Our dance therapists have found that the expressive quality of movement can be a powerful way of supporting children throughout their treatment experience. As an inpatient or outpatient, your child can participate in weekly classes in the pediatric Recreation Center or at the bedside.

Yoga

Children and young adults at Memorial Sloan Kettering can practice yoga in a group setting or individually at the bedside. Yoga is a gentle exercise that combines movement and simple poses with deep breathing and meditation to promote healing and relaxation as well as a more regular and restful sleep schedule. Our yoga instructors help children explore the poses of yoga through animals and nature, as well as through creative expression.

Touch Therapies

Our massage therapists offer services for patients and their families in the Pediatric Day Hospital or inpatient unit. Touch therapy (or massage therapy) involves manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissues to improve your child's physical functioning, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being.

Touch therapy can help your child:

  • manage pain, muscle tension, postoperative issues, and other musculoskeletal problems
  • improve insomnia and fatigue
  • decrease anxiety, stress, and depression

Our Integrative Medicine Service also offers a free monthly course in the adult Patient Recreation Pavilion called “Touch Therapy for the Caregiver,” in which caregivers are taught appropriate touch therapy techniques they can use with their child.