Dr O’Callaghan is a Music Therapist at Caritas Christi Hospice, and a Researcher with Psychosocial Cancer Care, at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. She has also been an Honorary Associate Professor with the Department of Medicine, St Vincent’s Hospital, The University of Melbourne since 2006, and has had honorary roles with The Melbourne Conservatorium, The University of Melbourne (2011-2020).

After commencing work as a palliative care social worker in 1982, Clare became the first music therapist employed in an Australian palliative care service in 1985. Through an extensive clinician-researcher career, which included 15 years at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (1998-2013), Clare developed expertise in qualitative and mixed methods research. She has led a range of research projects and has collaborated in many cancer and palliative care studies. From 2014 to 2019, Clare was a Senior Research Associate at Cabrini Health, where she was instrumental in developing the Palliative and Supportive Care research program. As an NHMRC Post-Doctoral Fellow (2008-9), Clare examined music’s role when affected by cancer diagnoses, and in the care of Sichuan earthquake survivors. Since 2019, Clare has also been undergoing level 3 training in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music, a form of therapy whereby music combined with imagery journeys activate inner reflection, memories, and feelings to promote health and well-being. In 2019, Clare was made a Member in the Order of Australia for significant service to community health.


Clare’s expertise includes development of song writing methods in palliative care, and qualitative research methods which help to uncover patients’, informal carers’, and health-workers’ subjective accounts of healthcare experiences. She is also involved in spirituality and psychedelic therapy research.

Recent Selected Publications

  • O’Callaghan, C., Hubik, D. J., Dwyer, J., Williams, M., Ross, M. (in press). Experience of music used with psychedelic therapy: A rapid review and implications. Journal of Music Therapy.
  • Kissane, D., O’Callaghan, C., Grossman, C., (in press). Research into psychosocial issues. In Cherny, N., et al. Oxford textbook of palliative medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Ganzon, C., O’Callaghan, C., Dwyer, J. (2020). “Art on Behalf”: Introducing an       accessible art therapy framework used in palliative care. Arts in Psychotherapy.
  • O'Callaghan C, Brooker J, De Silva W, Glenister D, Melia A, Symons X, Kissane D, Michael N. (2019). Patients' and caregivers' contested perspectives on spiritual care for those affected by advanced illnesses: a qualitative descriptive study. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 58, 977-988.
  •  O’Callaghan, C., Seah, D., Clayton, J. M., Welz, M., Kissane, D., Georgousopoulou, E. N., Michael, N. (2019). Palliative caregivers’ spirituality, views about spiritual care, and associations with spiritual well-being: a mixed methods study. American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine. doi: 10.1177/1049909119877351
  • Dwyer, Justin, Dwyer, Jeremy, Hiscock, R., O’Callaghan, C., Taylor, K., Ross, M., Bugeja, L., Philip, J. (2019). Characteristics of patients with cancer who die by suicide: Coronial case series in an Australian state. Psycho-Oncologydoi.org/10.1002/pon.5207
  • O’Callaghan, C. & Edwards, J. (2018). Music therapy and spirituality. In: Carey, LB., & Mathison, B. (eds). Spiritual care and allied health practice. London: Jessica Kingsley Press, London.