Laurier seeks to welcome new music therapist-in-residence

Graphic by Serena Truong
Graphic by Serena Truong

A new position in Wilfrid Laurier University’s faculty of music will help supervise undergraduate and graduate student placements, as well as provide clinical services at Guelph’s Homewood Health Centre.

The new music therapist-in-residence position will conduct research at the Homewood Research Institute and Manfred and Penny Conrad Institute for Music Therapy Research, as well as teach on the Laurier Waterloo campus.

The Homewood Health Centre is one of the country’s largest facilities for medical treatment of mental health and addiction disorders.

The position is part of Laurier’s music therapy program. The program, established in 1986, was the first music therapy program in Canada and uses music to promote and maintain mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.

In recent years, music therapy has been a growing occupation in Canada.

Music, as a form of therapy has shown to treat general mental states, as well as depression, anxiety and cognitive functioning.

The program also hopes to place students in various positions and internships around the community.

However, one of the challenges the program faces is finding appropriate placements for students.

“We knew we would need to find more sites for our students to work in as part of their degree program and so this is, I think, a terrific way of providing clinical services at Homewood Health Centre in Guelph,” said Glen Carruthers, dean of Laurier’s faculty of music.

“She or he will [also] have an appointment at Home and Health Centre and can provide a site for us.”

According to Carruthers, the music-therapist-in residence position will also become the fourth full-time faculty member in the music therapy program.

Currently, the program only features three full-time staff members and numerous part-time.

“It’s a big step forward for us and it responds to the growing interest in music therapy, not only at Laurier and Ontario, but across Canada and around the world,” said Carruthers.

The position was made possible through a donation by Bryce and Nancy (Sauder McLennan) Walker.

Bryce Walker is a former chair of Laurier’s Board of Governors and he has also received the university’s Distinguished Governors Award for his service to the university as the board chair from 2002 to 2005.

According to Carruthers, Walker had originally approached him with the suggestion that more should be done to expand the faculty’s outreach in music therapy through cooperation with Homeland Health Centre.

“It was like he ignited a fuse that then started a series of pretty interesting and intense conversations about ways that we can cooperate,” said Carruthers.

“I would give Bryce and Nancy a lot of credit. I think that they have a kind of vision and my job here was to make that vision a reality to figure out the details of how it might work, but it was really they who approached me with the idea.”

The music-therapist-in residence position will be filled by the beginning of January 2017 for a three-year term.

Interviews for the new full-time residence position will be taking place this week.

“We have some strong candidates and we should be able to make an announcement I think early in the New Year, if not before,” said Carruthers.

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