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Enjoying Music

In music therapy, clients and I use music to support their health goals.

Sites of practice may include my clinic space, long-term care facilities, day programs, residential facilities, or a client's home.

With any population, we might work on social connection, a feeling of resilience, self-expression, memory, accessing and promoting feelings of comfort, exploring and understanding emotions, practising cognitive tasks, improving self-esteem, and increasing quality of life, to name a few.

Clients might engage in music by listening to it, playing it, discussing it, improvising it, composing it, moving to it or otherwise interacting with it, depending on capacities and aims.


No previous experience, skill level or familiarity with music is required

to participate in music therapy.

Whatever clients' existing relationship with music is, we will explore ways of using it

to support their needs.

Please read below to learn about music therapy care and services for various client needs.

What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy and Mental Health

In mental health care, music therapy can look different for every person, but often it's about making space
to appreciate and explore different aspects of your experience, together with the therapist. Therapy may
focus on using and listening to music that's personally meaningful to you, finding sounds and instruments that support your self-expression and/or your struggles, songwriting, improvising, singing, or occasionally,
building skill on an instrument.

Music therapy is often about challenging perfectionism in safe ways. It might involve the use of music to build mindfulness skills, as a tool in attention training, or to build grounding and a feeling of safeness.  We might focus on exploring playfulness, and you might choose to explore difficult emotions like fear, grief or anger. It's about your relationship with music, and how that relationship can help you meet your needs for
mental health habits and healing.

Music psychotherapy can be the focus of our work, or be incorporated within verbal therapy care for interested clients.

Additionally, it is worth noting that for clients who are elders, who are neurodivergent, or who are children, mental and emotional well-being goals are almost always present and prioritised in some way.

There is a great deal of overlap among these categories!

to ask questions or find out more, please feel free to contact me.

mental healt
elder care

Music Therapy and Elder Care

music therapist rachel nolan

As with any population, the needs of elders are diverse and the music therapy practices and goal areas that best support them will vary from person to person.

For elders with dementia, I find it helpful to see how people are, in a way, "outside of time" - they seem to drift into a different place that is neither past nor present. Music therapy brings them into the present instant where, even if just for a few moments, things make sense, things are predictable, and they're home. Elders for whom a feeling of recognition is long missing even among family can often find rest in a sense of familiarity through the comfort of participating in the music from their lives.  "Participation" for elders with dementia may mean singing, dancing, or even just a therapist catching their engagement for a little while by inviting them into a world they recognise. It is one of the greatest honours of this work.

Of course, music therapy can benefit elders who are not experiencing dementia. Music therapy can support elders through mindful listening, reflecting on emotions through music,  reminiscing,  playing music, moving to music, even improvising, depending on their goals, and my work with elders may address health needs around mood, isolation, cognitive decline, a need for learning and growth, or more psychotherapeutic, existential needs around meaning, identity, loss and change.

To ask questions about my work and availability in elder care,

please contact me


Music Therapy and Neurodivergence

"Neurodivergence" is a broad term used by autistic people and others to self-identify and indicate that their brain functions in ways that differ from dominant standards of what's considered "normal," or neurotypical.  Here, I use it to include music therapy's

potential support for children and adults who are autistic, and also those with experiences including brain injuries or congenital differences like MPS 1 ("Hurler" syndrome), Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, or agenesis of corpus collosum, for example.


Naturally the diversity and spectra of such experiences means that there is an immense range of what music therapy might look like for neurodivergent clients. That said, therapy might include








  • increasing coping skills for overwhelm

  • opportunities for predictable and satisfying interactions and experiences

  • accessible experiences of play

  • managing fearful habits and unlearning shame

  • sensory exploration

  • experiences of being heard and understood

  • gaining mastery through creative exploration and learning

  • broadening communication capacity

  • experiences of feeling positively connected with others

  • expansion of self-knowledge

  • active play and "blowing off steam"

These examples might apply to a child, adolescent or adult with physical or communication disabilities, and they might just as well apply to a youth or adult coming to understand their neurodivergence. As noted above, therapy may involve active music making, responding to music, or learning to use recorded music for their own goals, and a range of blends among these. 

I can also offer adapted music lessons for some clients.

If you would like to discuss the potential of music therapy for your setting/program, for a neurodivergent loved one, or for yourself, please contact me!

Teacher Playing Piano
Child Star

Music Therapy and Child/Youth Mental Health

While, as a rule, I do not provide verbal-only psychotherapy with youth under 15, I can see children for music therapy. There is a great deal of exploration, self-expression, play, self-soothing and accomplishment that children with a variety of needs can achieve with the support of a music therapist.

Children and youth may find music therapy a helpful setting to gain a better understanding of their emotions, to challenge and understand perfectionism, or to healthily cope with intense anger or anxiety.  They may feel heard, they may relate to others, or they may feel safe to explore, in a way that they might not in other settings.  Music therapy might provide a space to be loud or a place to find quiet.

And, of course, it might provide a place for a little person or young adult to find their voice (often literally) and feel acceptance of who they are.


Please contact me if you are wondering if music therapy might be a fit for your child.

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Flourish Therapy Practices
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