Helen is currently lead researcher for the international EU/Alzheimer’s Society UK funded multi-site research project, HOMESIDE, an RCT trial for home-based music therapy for people with dementia and their family carer.
For over forty years, Helen's research and clinical work has contributed to establishing music therapy as a profession – and specifically to innovating approaches in adult mental health, including early links between music therapy and psychoanalysis. She has published widely on music therapy for people with personality disorders, psychosis and depression, and also on arts therapies and mental health. She founded music therapy in the adult NHS mental health service in Cambridge and advises HEE England and the Department of Health on music therapy, serving on many national and international boards.
Here at ARU, Helen was co-founder of the MA Music Therapy degree.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Adult Mental Health
Aalborg University: Ph.D. 2008
City University, London: M.Phil., Music Therapy 1989
Guildhall School of Music and Drama: L.G.S.M., Music Therapy 1977
University of Nottingham: B.A., Music 1976
- Member/Council for Allied Health Professions Research Strategic Board
- Chair/British Association for Music Therapy Steering Group for Music Therapy and Dementia
- Deputy Chair/The Music Therapy Charity
- Board Member/ International Consortium for Research in the Arts Therapies
- Member of The International Consortium for Music Therapy Research
- Editorial Board Member/ The Nordic Journal of Music Therapy
- Editorial Advisory Board Member/ The British Journal of Music Therapy
Media Appearances (4)
Music therapy initiative is continuing online following COVID-19 restrictions
Medical Xpress online
Professor Helen Odell-Miller OBE, Director of the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: "I am very proud of the members of the Together in Sound team, who have responded to the COVID-19 situation so quickly, therefore benefiting many people living with dementia, and their families, who may feel isolated at this time."
The power of music: Vicky McClure's dementia choir
"It's a sort of emotional and physiological physical memory, that music is very powerfully able to trigger," says Helen Odell-Miller, professor of music therapy at Anglia Ruskin University. "It can trigger the [memory of] rhythmic patterns, for example, that the person knows."
Call for more music therapy sessions for dementia patients and carers
Shropshire Star online
Helen Odell-Miller, director of the university’s Cambridge Institute of Music Therapy Research, said participants in the Together In Sound project’s first year indicated an increase in mood and memory.
Why listening to music is good for your health
New Zealand Herald online
"Often music triggers a memory, and not just a song but maybe the time and place when the person heard it," says Helen Odell-Miller, professor of music therapy at Anglia Ruskin University.
HOMESIDE: home-based family caregiver-delivered music and reading interventions for people living with dementia: protocol of a randomised controlled trialBMJ Open
2019 Pharmacological interventions to address behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) can have undesirable side effects, therefore non-pharmacological approaches to managing symptoms may be preferable. Past studies show that music therapy can reduce BPSD, and other studies have explored how formal caregivers use music in their caring roles.
Process and experience of change in the self-perception of women prisoners attending music therapy: The qualitative results of a mixed-methods exploratory studyApproaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy
2019 Women form a minority (4.8%) in the UK prison system, which is predominantly designed for men. A high number of women prisoners bring experiences of trauma and abuse with them into the system. The incidence of mental health problems is inordinately high compared to the general population.
Starting from Scratch: Co-production with dramatherapy in a Recovery CollegeDramatherapy
2019 This piece of writing has focused on the first stage of creating a co-production arts wing of the Recovery College and is written with the intention of demonstrating the practical value of a dramatherapy and ‘experts by experience’ collaboration.
Response to Justine Schneider’s article ‘Music therapy and dementia care practice in the United Kingdom: A British Association for Music Therapy membership survey’British Journal of Music Therapy
2018 Justine Schneider’s article is timely, as it coincides with a national initiative to promote and prioritise music, including music therapy, as a core and essential intervention for people with dementia at all stages of their care.
Music Interventions for Dementia and Depression in ELderly care (MIDDEL): protocol and statistical analysis plan for a multinational cluster-randomised trialBMJ Open
2019 In older adults, dementia and depression are associated with individual distress and high societal costs. Music interventions such as group music therapy (GMT) and recreational choir singing (RCS) have shown promising effects, but their comparative effectiveness across clinical subgroups is unknown.