While entertainers can certainly bring a level of enjoyment to residential facilities, their services are not therapeutic in nature. As noted above specific goals must be present and the activities and interventions must be administered by a qualified, trained music therapist to be considered music therapy.
The Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) credential is administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), an independent, non-profit agency fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. It's an indication that the provider has graduated from one of 70 approved music therapy 4 year degree programs, has successfully passed the CBMT board certification exam, has completed an apprenticeship under the supervision of a professional music therapist, and is maintaining certification through the completion of continuing education requirements. Other recognized professional designations are Registered Music Therapist (RMT), Certified Music Therapist (CMT), and Advanced Certified Music Therapist (ACMT) as listed with the National Music Therapist Registry. Any individual who does not have proper training is not qualified to provide music therapy services.
Emotional: I often work with clients exhibiting a variety of emotional needs. By using music to help them express their wants, needs, and desires I can help transition them, within the music, away from a negative space to a more preferred and comfortable emotional state.
Physical: Music naturally makes us tap our toes, nod our heads, whistle and clap. Music makes us move! I work with many clients to increase physical activity, strengthen muscles, increase range of motion and blood flow. These benefits, in turn, affect mood, endurance and stamina.
Social: Music encourages interaction and connection with others. Finish this phrase: "Old MacDonald had a farm..." You can't avoid "E-I-E-I-O" can you? Music interventions with a focus on social goals can increase interaction, eye contact, attention to task, and other signs of engagement.
Spiritual: Every religion in the world uses music to celebrate, grieve, and connect. The fullest way we pray is through song. Music therapy can be used to navigate the fears and questions often present at or near the end of life.
When I work with clients, be it in a group setting or one-on-one, I focus on specific goal areas. Examples include:
Cognitive: Music therapy can be used to stimulate memory recall, trigger awareness of time, place, and person, or as a vehicle for communication. For example, because music accesses and uses different neuro-pathways in the brain, a person that is unable to speak may still be able to sing.
I've always known that, as a music therapist, I wanted to focus on working with
the elderly. Over the course of my career I've come to specialize in Alzheimer's and geriatric care and have chosen to focus my practice on serving clients in care facilities.
In 2005 I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Therapy from Ohio University (Go Bobcats!). That same year I completed my music therapy internship at Bethany Lutheran Village in Dayton, OH and passed the Certification Board for Music Therapist's (CBMT) exam. In 2006 I completed additional training and became a Certified Validation Worker (CVW). Validation is a method of communicating with and assisting the elderly in various stages of disorientation.
After several years working as an Activity Director and Program Coordinator in specialized memory care settings, I elected to start my own private practice and focus exclusively on delivering music therapy services to individual clients and facilities throughout western Pennsylvania. Since 2007 I've served hundreds of clients at more than 40 facilities across the region.
My principle instrument is flute. I am also proficient in guitar, piano, voice, and percussion, and use all in my practice. In 2012 I accepted a position as Adjunct Faculty with the music therapy program at Duquesne University, where I teach part time. I am a proud member of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and our regional affiliate the MAR-AMTA. I reside in the south hills of Pittsburgh with my husband and our two children (we're a family of musicians!) where I get to perform my favorite job of all: Mom.
Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Sounds a bit technical, doesn't it?
How about this: Has a song ever taken you back to a specific moment in time? Or reminded you of someone special? Has music ever motivated you to workout longer or drive faster? Music is hardwired into each of us. As a result, it can be used as a powerful form of medicine.
I work with clients in various stages of aging, some of whom are experiencing anxiety, depression, isolation, withdrawal, agitation, or fear. I design and deliver music therapy interventions that help clients navigate these states and many others that impact quality of life. I take an individual's relationship with music and couple it with proven methods for reaching cognitive, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual goals. Whether your needs are related to mood, movement, communication, recall, comfort, or end of life care, music therapy can play a part.