John Mondanaro

  • Designation: Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Country: USA
  • Title: Expressive Arts Therapy and Quality of Life in those Living with Dementia


John Mondanaro, PhD, MT-BC, LCAT, CCLS, is an Assistant Professor and Director of Expressive Arts Therapy for the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital. Earning his Ph.D. in Education and MA in Music Therapy from New York University and BA in Art from Saint Ambrose University, John holds licensure as a creative arts therapist in New York and maintains dual certification in Music Therapy and Child Life practice. He has written and presented extensively on the arts in healthcare, including co-editing the books Music and Medicine: Integrative Models in the Treatment of Pain and Covid Chronicles: Music Therapy in Pandemic Times. John’s dedication to patient care across the lifespan for over 20 years earned him Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s 2017 Care and Compassion Award and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s 2023 Humanities Award for enhancing palliative care through the arts. 


Expression of identity is an essential human experience and quality of life marker that is often diminished in those living with dementia.  Myriad symptoms and diminished functionality contribute to this reality. The severe impact of dementia on quality of life moves beyond the physical losses incurred by the disease but also includes psychosocial impact. The value of individual identity in those living with dementia is often dismissed or even denied in everyday life through institutional and societal objectification. Stigma about the disease and its course heightens anxiety in those newly diagnosed and becomes the lived story of those living with advanced disease. Music therapy and other expressive arts therapies, including art therapy, dance-movement therapy, and drama therapy, provide unprecedented identity-affirming opportunities for individuals living with all stages of dementia. Through these therapies, individual narratives are witnessed and given resonance within a therapeutic relationship. Individuals may experience aspects of themselves that are inextricably linked to core identity and, when reinvigorated, can transcend the identity of a “dementia patient.” These therapies can bolster self-esteem and increase functionality physiologically and cognitively, and music therapy, in particular, has been shown to improve neurologic function through its positive role in neuroplasticity. Expressive arts therapies can also positively address the caregiver burden often identified in families navigating the care of a loved one with dementia. Support groups across modalities can invite release and provide aesthetic framing of challenging circumstances incurred by the care of an individual diagnosed with the disease. This presentation will feature state-of-the-art research, a case study, and a video of clinical music therapy with an individual diagnosed with dementia.  

Don't miss our future updates!

Get in Touch