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Wellness Kensington Park

Musical Notes with Melissa

Melissa Pate

More times than I can count, I’ve stood in the elevator with a stranger who sees me carrying my guitar. “Are you a musician?” they ask. “Kind of…I’m a music therapist!” I reply. What usually happens next is a learning moment for them. “Music as therapy, that sounds good! So, you play music for someone and they feel better?” they wonder. Yes, our services do make people feel better – but it goes so much deeper than that!

Music therapy is an evidence-based practice that integrates the best available research and clinical expertise as well as the needs, values and preferences of the individual.

Research: Music therapy research dates to the 1960s. As the field has grown, so has the body of research regarding music’s effects on the mind and body. The American Music Therapy Association has two publications dedicated to music therapy research: Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives. Both are widely accessible to music therapists and referenced often. Music therapy research can also be found in several credible, peer-reviewed journals.

Clinical Expertise: Clinical expertise includes musical and non-musical clinical skills that therapists learn and perfect throughout their training and practice. Some of these musical skills include verbal processing and reflective listening while non-musical skills include building familiarity and personal rapport with our clients.

Needs, Values and Preferences of the Resident: When we begin music therapy with a new client, the question we look to answer is: What do they need? Is it mood improvement, cognitive stimulation, social engagement or sensorimotor rehabilitation? Once that is discovered, the next thing we look at are values and preferences. What kind of music do they like? What kinds of musical engagement do they prefer? Are they religious? Knowing their values and preferences allows the music therapist to take a resident-centered approach in care, which in turn makes for more successful interventions, and a happier individual!

As you can see, music therapy is a complex practice facilitated by highly-trained professionals. Our team puts careful thought, strategy and consideration into each session to ensure our residents are getting the most out of their time with us!

Questions? Please reach out to Melissa Pate at mpate@ We would be happy to tell you more!