Mary Mell | Bethesda Magazine

Ask the Experts: Seniors & Aging


Mary Mell

Executive Director, MHSA, LNHA, CDAL, Kensington Park Senior Living

3620 Littledale Road

Kensington, MD



Why did Kensington Park establish an in-house Creative Arts Therapy program?

Our program seeks to reach the very heart and soul of our seniors. Whether it is to create meaningful moments of connection or ease pain, agitation and anxiety through non-pharmacological means, our primary goal is to improve the quality of our residents’ lives. We are excited to explore opportunities to ignite personal passions, expand possibilities for joyful self-expression and connect generations.

Our owners are deeply committed to a holistic approach to care. We are a community that appeals as much to the emotional, social and spiritual wellness of residents as we do to their mental and physical health. Music and art therapy are burgeoning fields supported by a growing base of promising research in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and gerontology. With research led by organizations like NIH taking a global stage, we wanted to offer the benefits of these therapies in our own community.

What makes your Creative Arts Therapy program unique?

We chose to build our own in-house team of four board-certified music therapists who are on-site daily, which allows us a more integrated approach. Our therapists not only consult on creative arts for our general population, but also conduct highly individualized one-on-one, dyad and small group sessions.

The process begins with an in-depth assessment of areas of functioning, from which personalized goals and service plans are established. This evidence-based, clinical use of music intervention is most often focused on non-musical goals. These goals can include improving mood or increasing social interaction and cognitive stimulation. Our therapists involve family members in the process with monthly progress reports, regular photos and videos, and invitations to sessions and performances. The joy that this program has brought to residents, families, staff and the larger community has been profound.

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