Music Therapy

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Music has nonverbal, creative, structural, and emotional qualities. These are used in the therapeutic relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication, and personal development.
Canadian Association for Music Therapy / Association de Musicothérapie du Canada Annual General Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia, May 6, 1994
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What is my involvement in Music Therapy

I completed my Bachelor’s of Music Therapy at Capilano University. The Music Therapy Program is an incredible program that offer students the opportunity to learn and develop professional skills in music therapy practice which includes clinical disorders, assessment, planning, interventions, improvisation, counselling, group dynamics, research, documentation, cultural awareness, and improving skills on piano, guitar, and voice. With the help of my professors and colleagues, I have grown more and developed more insight and self awareness in the last two years than I have in my entire life. And not only this, I have discovered my true calling, using my passion for music to help bring balance and wholeness into other people’s lives.

I have participated in continuing education programs and workshops such as Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) Level 1 training with Liz Moffitt, Non-Violent Crisis Intervention, Improving Clinical Guitar Skills, and Songwriting for the Heart. I have also volunteered for various associations including Music Heals, Canadian Association for Music Therapy (CAMT), Music Therapy Trust Fund, and Music Therapy Association for BC (MTABC).

My last practicum placement was at Edmonds Community School in Burnaby. Edmonds is well known for it’s large population of immigrant and refugee students, in fact a book titled ‘From Bombs to Books’ by David Starr was specifically written about the lives of some of the refugee students and their families from Asia, Central America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe who attended Edmonds Community School and Byrne Creek Secondary. These families experienced unimaginable emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual trauma.

I have had the honour of working with these children and their families last semester and this semester and I will likely continue in my future internship. Every day I witness the strength and resiliency in these people and I am incredibly humbled. Goals we attend to are regaining control and feeling a sense of normalcy in their lives, providing opportunities for emotional expression of feelings such as homesickness, loneliness, and grief, and channeling emotions into healthy outlets. We also address feelings around acculturation, social adjustments, identity reconstruction, and sense of belonging in their transitions into Canadian life.

During my time at Edmonds I also worked children with a variety of challenges including anxiety disorder, tic disorder, autistic spectrum disorder, intellectual delay, low self esteem, and severe behavioural challenges. Through music we worked on goals such as increasing opportunities for emotional expression, increasing sense of calm and relaxation, practicing self regulation, and increasing depth of social interaction with fellow classmates. Activities included songwriting, musical improvisation, drawing to music, and musical games to facilitate the development of both self expression and self regulation.

I completed my 1000 hour internship at Edmonds Community School and Vancouver General Hospital, where I worked with individuals in the Burns, Trauma, and High Acuity unit. The overarching goal as a Music Therapist in the Burn Unit was to alleviate suffering. This was most commonly implemented using patient preferred live music (PPLM) during painful burn care procedures.

I feel so incredibly privileged to have studied Music Therapy at Capilano University and to embark on a career path that fits so well with who I am and what I am passionate about. My goal is to work as a community based music therapist with stigmatized and vulnerable populations.

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