Suzanne Hanser

Professor, Chair Emerita
Affiliated Departments
music in psychotherapy
Faculty Bio E-Mail

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Suzanne B. Hanser, Ed.D., MT-BC, is a professor and the founding chair of the Music Therapy Department. She is a past president of the World Federation of Music Therapy and the National Association for Music Therapy, and a noted researcher, author, clinician, musician, and speaker.

Career Highlights
  • 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
  • Recorded "The Remembrance of One" with Daniel Kobialka
  • 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 area, 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
  • Named by the Boston Globe as one of eleven Bostonians changing the world
  • Receipient 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
  • B.M., Florida State University
  • M.M., Florida State University
  • Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine
In Their Own Words

"These days there's a lot of attention to New Age philosophies and approaches to life, and drumming circles have become very popular. People get a lot out of that, and for some it's a spiritual experience. They think that's music therapy. But music therapy is scientific in addition to being an artistic endeavor. It's really a structured and formulaic approach to meeting individual needs. Music therapy is the systematic approach to using music to meet the specific need of a person or group. Music has to come so naturally to the therapist that he or she can be totally with the client and tuned in to what he or she needs at the moment, totally empathizing and understanding not only what the person's saying, but what they're feeling."

"I came here to establish a music therapy program that was state of the art. I knew that we could take advantage of research and impressive medical advances here in Boston, which has some of the finest hospitals. I also knew that Berklee itself was the finest institution training contemporary musicians."

"The psychoneuroimmunology of music therapy demonstrates the connection between mind and body, and helps to explain how music therapy can ultimately affect health and wellbeing. Berklee music therapy students learn the scientific basis for their clinical work, analyze research findings, and practice diverse music therapy strategies in their fieldwork. Berklee’s graduates represent the future of this field, and their talents are bringing out the best in humanity."

"All of my research, writing, speaking, training, administration and clinical work has informed my teaching at Berklee. Most of all, my students inspire and educate me every day."

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