Musical Medicine

May 1, 2006 by  
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A doctor who understands the healing powers of music

Highly regarded clinical psychologist Dr. Marian Yeager has contributed significantly to the field of mental health, as well as to the joy of music. With a private practice begun in the 1950s, she must know where the bodies are buried and what’s hidden in the proverbial closets of many a Houstonian. But she’s not telling! She is as closed-mouthed as the Jesuits who taught her in college.

Passion for music
Psychology was not Dr. Yeager’s first passion. Growing up in a musical family in Uptown New Orleans, the young girl was a gifted pianist. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in music at Loyola. “My early college years were wonderful, and the Jesuits didn’t try to convert me!” She went on to teach music at Loyola and, “had quite a career concerticizing and playing piano on the radio.” With encouragement from her aunt (the doctor), Marian’s interest in psychology blossomed, and she decided to pursue a Ph.D. The University of Houston’s renowned psychology department brought her to the Bayou City.

It was in class that she met her future husband, Dr. Nobel Enete. “He was sitting near me, and I looked at him and said, ‘I like your red shirt.’ And he said, ‘You must wear it sometime,'” she remembers. Not only did she marry the Rio de Janeiro native, but she eventually opened a private practice with him.

Coursework at the University of Houston was followed by residency training at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. After graduation, her first position was on the staff of M.D. Anderson Hospital, where she participated in the tremendous growth of the facility. “It was a thrilling time,” she says. “It was the beginning.”

Group therapy
Dr. Yeager was among the first to offer group therapy in Houston. “We went to New York quite a bit to train for group (therapy),” she says. “We had great teachers. Houstonians’ attitudes toward group therapy assisted in the growth of this treatment throughout the Southwest.”

Today, in addition to her private practice, Dr. Yeager is on the staff of Texas Children’s Hospital and is clinical psychologist emeritus at Baylor College of Medicine. She is a board member and distinguished fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association and the Southwestern Group Psychotherapy Society. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Foundation and is founder of the Houston Group Psychotherapy Society.

Three months ago, the American Group Psychotherapy Association honored Dr. Yeager for her contributions to the field. Hers is a field she has nurtured, but her job, as she sees it, is still the same – whether it is working with individuals, couples or families. “I assist people in understanding what is contributing to their pain and finding ways and means of experiencing relief and moving toward a healthier way of living,” Dr. Yeager says.

Healthy living
Her continuing love of music has helped Dr. Yeager with her own healthy living. “Music enhances health and contrasts the death, pain and suffering so often seen in the medical world,” she says. Dr. Yeager has served on the boards of the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet. She was honored in 2004 by the Moores School of Music and is also supportive of Shepherd School of Music.

Dr. Yeager is active with the Huffington Center on Aging, which gave her its Spirit of Ann Morrow Linbergh Award. She is a founding member of The WomenÍs Fund for Health, Education and Research, as well as a charter member of The Partnership for Baylor. She serves on the board of Cancer Counseling, too.

At home
If you can find her at home between work and charities, you will most likely find Dr. Yeager in her large sun room. It is like sitting in an air-conditioned greenhouse – here, you are completely surrounded by light, trees and plants. A piano is visible in the living room, and there are photographs everywhere. Most of the pictures are of her four grandchildren and her husband. She exudes the balance in life that she advocates for others.

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