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My Clinical Experience

rachel nolan music therapist

I am registered (RP 008210) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario and am an Accredited Music Therapist (MTA 0958) with the Canadian Association of Music Therapists.

My primary caseload is currently in verbal psychotherapy and music psychotherapy, online and in person. I am a part of Flourish Therapy Practices, with a physical clinic space in downtown Hamilton. Most folks I work with now live with intense or self-destructive internal experiences, including eating disorders, PTSD, anxiety, and many kinds of painful reckoning with personal and systemic grief and suffering. We work together mainly using Compassion-Focused Therapy, and sometimes music therapy.


Before opening my private practice in winter 2020, I worked in an inpatient mental health facility providing intensive verbal psychotherapy and music therapy to groups and individuals. People had a variety of different mental health experiences, including trauma, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis, depression, addictions, mania and dementia, as well as personality disorder diagnoses. Private practice allows me to do as the psychologist and educator Irvin Yalom says and "invent" [collaboratively] "a new therapy for every client," which is less than characteristic of what was possible in that hospital setting.

I have been the music therapist at Alexander Place Long-Term Care since 2017, and I work occasional short-term facility and agency music therapy contracts, as well as working privately as a music therapist with individuals with a range of experiences.

My Learning

I am grateful to my past and current clients for the wisdom and courage they have honoured me by sharing – their insight is constantly informing my practice. I participate several times a year in clinical training and education to support my ongoing growth as a care provider. I have training in Compassion-Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy. I approach healthcare from a Health at Every Size® lens. I have a personal interest in the Sanctuary Model of trauma care, and in anti-oppressive practice, as well as in anticapitalism, decolonizing, and in body liberation and body acceptance. I work to participate in ongoing education, action and growth in these practices. I hold a Master of Music Therapy degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, for which my research focused on the role of shame as a phenomenon and a goal area in music therapy. My Bachelor of Music Therapy degree includes two years' psychology, music cognition and music performance study at McMaster University and three years studying music therapy, counselling and healthcare practices at Capilano University.

My Lived Experience

Before pursuing music therapy I trained and worked as a musician, which is still part of my life. I'm grateful to continually learn a whole lot from community organizing in Hamilton including local projects for Indigenous solidarity, the rights of unhoused people, movements to defund and create alternatives to policing, and movements for queer solidarity, prisoner justice, mental health access, decolonizing, community education, climate justice, anti-authoritarianism and human rights advocacy, as well as local music collaborations.

In my personal life I enjoy trees, having my hands in the dirt, science fiction, cheese from the upstairs corner of the Hamilton Farmers' Market, learning from rad humans, and listening to music playlists with incongruous combinations. I'm a white, cis, queer settler woman with lived experience as a survivor, of accessing mental health care, and of the frightening process of re-stringing my own brain to become an instrument I can use, appreciate, and survive alongside.

rachel nolan flourish therapy practices
Flourish Therapy Practices
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