Suzanne Hanser

Professor, Chair Emerita
Affiliated Departments
music in psychotherapy

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Suzanne B. Hanser Ed.D. MT-BC is founding chair emerita of Berklee's Music Therapy Department and president of the International Association for Music & Medicine. She is past president of the World Federation of Music Therapy and the National Association for Music Therapy. Her Individual National Research Service Award from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) launched a research agenda to develop and investigate the effects of music therapy on pain, anxiety, physiological changes, indicators of stress, and quality of life. She has conducted randomized clinical trials of the impact of music therapy protocols in oncology, geriatrics, cardiac rehabilitation, and family medicine. She established the music therapy program at the Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Hanser is the author of The New Music Therapist's Handbook, and co-author of Manage Your Stress and Pain, with Dr. Susan Mandel. Her latest book, Integrative Health through Music Therapy: Accompanying the Journey from Illness to Wellness, explores the use of ancient and contemporary music-based interventions in people who are suffering. In 2006 Dr. Hanser was named by the Boston Globe as one of 11 Bostonians changing the world. She is the recipient of a Sage Publications Prize, a Model of Healing Award from the Children’s Music Fund, and the American Music Therapy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Career Highlights
  • President, International Association for Music and Medicine
  • Created an online "musixploration," known as Michio’s Musings ( 
  • Recordings include A Contemplation Garden of Music and Labyrinth of Imaging Mirrors (with Daniel Kobialka)
  • Wrote chorale composition "You Are a Blessing" performed by the Zachor Chorale Chamber Ensemble
  • Fellow in clinical gerontology, postdoctoral training, at Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Former professor and chair, University of the Pacific
  • Publications include Integrative Health through Music Therapy: Accompanying the Journey from Illness to Wellness (Palgrave Macmillan), Manage Your Stress and Pain through Music (Berklee Press), The New Music Therapist's Handbook (Berklee Press), and numerous articles and book chapters on music therapy
  • Speaker at national and international conferences in psychiatry, psychology, education, music, gerontology, special education, and music therapy
  • Past president of the National Association for Music Therapy and World Federation of Music Therapy
  • Past program director of the Alzheimer's Association, Greater San Francisco Bay chapter, in California
  • Research associate and music therapist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Faculty member for continuing medical education courses at Harvard Medical School
  • Founded the music therapy program at the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University
  • Keynote speaker at conferences and symposia around the world
  • Provided grand rounds at medical schools including Harvard University, Dartmouth University, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Asahigawa Medical College in Japan
  • Chair Emeritus, Berklee College of Music
  • Recipient of the National Research Service Award from National Institute on Aging
  • Recipient of the Sage Publications Prize
  • Recipient of the American Music Therapy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Model of Healing Award from the Children's Music Fund
  • Featured in "11 Bostonians Changing the World," Boston Globe
  • Sage Publications Award
In Their Own Words

"Students learn life lessons that help them become the finest music therapists they can be. But these lessons also serve them as friends, family members, colleagues, and active members of society."

"My professional background contributes to my teaching because my scholarly work is a combination of clinical practice, research, teaching, and music performance/composition; I use different lenses to characterize the work of the music therapist; and can approach learning using various vocabularies."

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