Since 2014, board certified music therapists have provided services to active duty service members and veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTSD) in military medical facilities across the United States through Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. In this AMTA-Pro podcast, speakers Sara Kass, Rebecca Vaudreuil, Donna Betts, and Danielle Kalseth describe music therapy practice and research as well as effective and innovative interventions. They also share stories illustrating ways in which Creative Forces supports clinic-to-community programming to further support healing, motivate recovery, and promote reintegration, making a marked impact in the lives of individuals and their families. The text notes of this AMTA-Pro podcast include links to a number of related resources and intriguing media links.


Innovations in Military Music Therapy Practice

AMTA-Pro Podcast ~ June 2020

Sara Kass, Rebecca Vaudreuil, Donna Betts, Danielle Kalseth


AMTA-Pro Discussion Outline

Music therapy has expanded since 2014 within a unique program, Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Forces is a partnership with the United States Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and state and local arts agencies with administrative support provided by Americans for the Arts. Creative Forces supports creative arts therapists at 11 sites nationwide and a telehealth initiative (National Endowment for the Arts, n.d.). The panel in this AMTA-Pro podcast includes Sara Kass, Rebecca Vaudreuil, Donna Betts, Danielle Kalseth. These experienced professionals discuss these topics:

1. Innovations in music therapy practice, community integration, and research as applied to the integrative rehabilitation of military populations with traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress and their families (Creative Forces Research Inventory, 2017).

2. The background and expansion of Creative Forces, site descriptions, and music therapy treatment which includes interdisciplinary collaboration and performance-based intervention (Vaudreuil, Bronson, & Bradt, 2019).

3. The role of Creative Forces in supporting clinic-to-community programming to further support healing, motivate recovery, and promote reintegration.

4. Positioning of Creative Forces music therapists as interdisciplinary team members.

5. Didactic and experiential program examples and demonstration of how Creative Forces clinicians work cohesively in a multi-site network to promote continued arts engagement (Vaudreuil, Avila, Bradt, & Pasquina, 2018).

6. Creative Forces-supported research and its relevance to demonstrating the benefits of music therapy, informing best practices, and improving quality of care (Bronson, Vaudreuil, & Bradt, 2018).

7. Examples of music therapy interventions as cited in published research of creative arts therapies with military populations (Bradt, Biondo, & Vaudreuil, 2018).

8. The Creative Forces research strategic framework, including the resources and efforts being put forth in support of creative arts therapies research (National Endowment for the Arts, 2019, January).

“Must See” Media Links

(1) ABC 10 San Diego. (2018). Music therapy helping Camp Pendleton marines with traumatic brain injuries. Retrieved from:

(2) National Memorial Day Capital Concerts, Public Broadcasting Service. (2017). National Memorial Day Concert. Retrieved from



(5) Schneider, M. via NEA Creative Forces (2017). Music Saved My Life: How Arts Therapy Helped a Master Sergeant Recover from the Wounds of War. Retrieved from

References and Resources

Bradt, J., Biondo, J., & Vaudreuil, R. (2018). Songs created by military service members in music therapy: A retrospective analysis. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 62:19-27.

Bradt, J., Biondo, J., & Vaudreuil, R. (2019). A thematic analysis of songs created by service members in music therapy: A retrospective analysis. The Arts in Psychotherapy. Open Access Link:

Bronson, H., Vaudreuil, R., & Bradt, J. (2018). Music therapy treatment of active duty military: An overview of intensive outpatient and longitudinal care programs. Music Therapy Perspectives, 36(2), 195-206. Open Access Link:

Gooding, L., & Langston, D. (2019).Music therapy with military populations: A scoping review, Journal of Music Therapy, 56(4), 315- 347

National Endowment for the Arts. (n.d.). Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. Retrieved from:

National Endowment for the Arts (2019, January). Creative Forces clinical research and scholarly manuscripts inventory. Retrieved from

Spooner, H., Lee, J., Langston, D., Sonke, J., Myers, K., Levy, C. (2019) Using distance technology to deliver the creative arts therapies to veterans: Case studies in art, dance/movement and music therapy, The Arts in Psychotherapy 62: 12-18.

Vaudreuil, R., Avila, L., Bradt, J., & Pasquina, P. (2018). Music therapy applied to complex blast injury in interdisciplinary care: A case report. Disability and rehabilitation.Open Access Link:

Vaudreuil, R., Biondo, J., Bradt, J. (2020). Music therapy with active-duty service members: Group protocol description and secondary analysis of protocol evaluations, Music Therapy Perspectives, miaa006,

Vaudreuil, R., Bronson, H., & Bradt, J. (2019). Bridging the clinic to community: music performance as social transformation for military service members. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(119).

About the AMTA-Pro Podcast Speakers

Rebecca Vaudreuil, EdM, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist who earned a music therapy degree at Berklee College of Music and master’s in educational neuroscience at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is currently working on her master’s in social work at Fordham University. She holds additional certifications in the specialty areas of neurologic music therapy, neonatal intensive care music therapy, and music therapy assisted child birthing. In 2010, she founded a model for music therapy programing that was replicated on multiple military installations in San Diego county. Since 2014, Rebecca works for an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Creative Forces®: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. She proudly serves as the Lead Music Therapist and develops music therapy best practices, provides clinical and research mentorship for the Creative Forces music therapy team, supports increased access to creative arts therapies research across military and veteran healthcare systems, and promotes arts-based partnerships in clinical and community settings across the United States. Her work has been published in both arts-based and rehabilitation peer-reviewed journals and featured by CNN, ABC’s World News Tonight, PBS as part of the Memorial Day Capital Concerts (2017, 2020), and in a White House Blog. Rebecca is a featured lecturer at various national and international symposiums, conferences, and universities and works with the Jamaica Field Service Project to supervise music therapy in special education Schools of Hope, hospitals, infirmaries, and homeless shelters in rural areas across Jamaica.

Captain (ret) Sara M. Kass, MD retired from the Navy in March of 2015. Prior to retirement she served as Deputy Commander, National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland. Preceding this position, Dr. Kass was responsible for all US Navy Wounded Warrior Care Policy and served as the Deputy Chief, Wounded, Ill and Injured, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), Washington, DC. Before reporting to BUMED she served as Faculty in the Department of Family Medicine and Director, University Family Health Center, Uniformed Services University. Dr. Kass earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Pacific Lutheran University in 1987. She attended Medical School at George Washington University and earned her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1992. Following medical school, she received her training in Family Medicine at the Puget Sound Family Medicine Residency, serving as Chief Resident from 1994-1995. While in residency she was awarded the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Resident Teacher Award. Dr. Kass also completed tours of duty at Naval Air Facility Adak; Submarine Base Bangor, Silverdale, Washington; Naval Hospital Naples, Italy and Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, NC.

While serving as the Officer in Charge of the NICoE, Dr. Kass witnessed the healing power of the arts. Driven to increase access to these powerful services for military members and Veterans as well as enhance research to understand their impact, Dr. Kass partnered with the NEA to develop and implement Creative Forces. Today she remains a strong advocate and leader for the initiative by serving as the Senior Military and Medical Advisor.

Danielle Vetro Kalseth, MM, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist with special certifications in neurologic music therapy and neonatal intensive care music therapy. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Shenandoah University and a Master of Music in music therapy from The Florida State University. She has guest lectured on music therapy at Alaska Pacific University and at the Providence Alaska Medical Center Leadership Conference. In 2014, Danielle founded and directed the medical music therapy program at Providence Alaska Medical Center, providing patient and family centered care in areas of: premature infants, pediatrics, oncology, post-operative recovery, adult and adolescent inpatient psychiatry, palliative care, dementia and general medical units. In addition, Danielle developed and coordinated Horizon House Singing Seniors, a senior wellness choir at a community-based assisted living facility. Since 2017, Danielle has worked for an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts called Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network. She is honored to be the Creative Forces music therapist at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Anchorage, Alaska. She has developed a music therapy program in an outpatient longitudinal care clinic that serves active duty service members, veterans and dependents including a telehealth program to soldiers at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. She works closely with the Alaska State Council on the Arts to develop community arts programming for her patients in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley region. Additionally, she has established music therapy and military band collaboration with the 9th Army band at JBER. Her work has been highlighted on the Department of Defense health website, JBER’s magazine The Arctic Warrior, JBER’s official Facebook page, local news KTVA Inside the Gate and The White Blog.

Donna Betts, PhD, ATR-BC is Clinical Research Advisor for Creative Forces®: National Endowment for the Arts’ Military Healing Arts Network. She has been a Board-Certified art therapist since 2002 and served as President of the American Art Therapy Association from 2015–2017. Formerly Associate Professor and Research Director in the George Washington University Graduate Art Therapy Program (2009 – 2018), Dr. Betts is an award-winning scholar and has presented internationally on art therapy practice, policy, and research. Dr. Betts’ most recent publication is the book, Art Therapy Research: A Practical Guide. A complete list of her publications is included here.