Music Therapy At Laurier

Music Therapy at Laurier

Please click on the following links to learn more about Music Therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University!

Other Student Associations

Who’s Who in the Program

General Program Information

Music Therapy Alumni

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Monday Meetings: Meet Aimee!


Faculty Bios - Aimee Berends

Aimee Berends

Monday Meetings: Meet Aimee!

Aimee graduated from Laurier’s  Master’s of Music Therapy Program (MMT) in 2013. She is especially interested the use of music therapy in crisis stabilization, music therapy in detoxification, and the use of clinical improvisation with clients in active psychosis.

 Major Model of Practice:

Aimee’s major models of practice include music psychotherapy, music-centered, and client-centered music therapy.

Specific Interests:

Aimee is interested in researching the use of orchestral instruments in music therapy.

Research interests:

Use of orchestral instruments in music therapy, music therapy in psychiatry.

Recent Publications: 

  •  Berends, A. (In Press). What do orchestral instruments bring to music therapy? Developing my voice on the oboe and English horn as a music therapist. Canadian Journal of Music Therapy.
  •  Berends, A. (In Press). Orchestral instruments. In Lee, C.A. & Pun, S. (Eds.), Creative explorations and resources for music therapists. New Braunfels: Barcelona.
  •  Berends, A. (2013). A collaborative exploration of the oboe and the English horn in music therapy at a mental health outpatient facility.  (Unpublished major research paper). Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo.

Fun facts: I am an avid runner, I love to cook and invent new recipes!

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Monday Meetings: Meet Dr. Heidi Ahonen!

Faculty Bios - Heidi Ahonen

Heidi Ahonen

Director of the Manfred and Penny Conrad Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR)

Dr. Heidi Ahonen (, received a PhD from Joensuu University (1998), Finland, and an MA from the University of Helsinki (1990). Heidi worked at the North Karelia Polytechnic, Finland (1990-2001) and established their music therapy training programme prior to moving to Canada in 2001, She also trained music therapists at Sibelius Academy, Finland (1990-2002), and psychotherapists at the Finnish Mental Health Association, Psychotherapy Institute (1999-2005). Since 1990, Heidi has lectured and conducted experiential workshops in the health care community and various Universities in both Europe and North-America.Most recently, Heidi has conducted Vicarious Trauma Workshops around the globe.

 Academic Interests

Heidi’s research program covers a wide range of qualitative music psychotherapy research, i.e. Group Analytic Music Therapy, and clinical improvisation, and evidence-based Music Medicine research, i.e. low frequency sound wave research ( Heidi’s research projects have covered various clinical populations i.e. PTSD, psychological trauma, depression, burn-out, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and Vibromyalgia. Heidi has extensive clinical supervision and research supervision experience. Specializing in phenomenology, grounded theory, fenomenography, narrative inquiry, and arts based research, Heidi has supervised over 50 postgraduate/masters-level theses and research papers in 7 different Universities in Europe and North-America. She has been the external examiner/public opponent of ten doctorate dissertations, and served as an external examiner of CIHR, Canada, several scholarly journals, and other Universities’ arts therapy programmes, i.e. U of Hertfordshire and the Irish World Academy.

Heidi has published widely in psychotherapy, group analysis, and music therapy topics.  Her books include:

  • Group Analytic Music Therapy.Gilsum. NH. Barcelona Publishers. (2007)
  • Musiikki—Sanaton kieli. Musiikkiterapian perusteet. [Music—language without words. The basics of music therapy]. Finnlectura Oy. HKI.,3. prints. (2000/1992)
  • Samalle aaltopituudelle—kohtaaminen musiikin avulla. [To the same tune—meeting in the musical world]. Kirjayhtymä oy. Hki. (1999)
  • ”Musiikillinen dialogi” ja muita musiikkiterapeuttientyöskentelytapoja ja lasten musiikkiterapian muotoja.[Musical dialog and other working methods of music therapists and forms of music therapy for children]. Doctorate thesis. University of Joensuu. Faculty of Education. N:o 45. Joensuu University Printing House. (1998)
  • Löytöretki itseen. [Exploring oneself. Music, picture and movement as a tool of self expression and insight]. Musiikki, kuva ja liike itseilmaisun välineenä ja itsetuntemuksen lisääjänä.Kirjayhtymä Oy. HKI. 2. prints. (1994)
  • Taide Psykososiaalisen työn välineenä.[Arts as a tool of psychosocial work]. (Heidi Ahonen-Eerikainen Ed.). PohjoisKarjalan Ammattikorkeakoulun julkaisu sarja A/2, opetushallitus.Raamattupaino, Pieksämäki2. prints. (1994)


Undergraduate Courses – None

Graduate Courses – MU505, MU507, MU606

For a more detailed biography of Dr. Heidi Ahonen, please see

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Internship – Mikaela Leandertz

2014 Grad - 4

I’ve just finished my sixth week of my internship at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan. Wascana offers music therapy in their Children’s program, on their Extended Care units, and their Veterans units. I have been working on the veterans and extended care units, but there are also opportunities for me to observe the music therapist in the children’s program, or even at other hospitals in the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region. Groups that are offered in the veteran’s/ extended care programs include:


  • “Musical Memories” group with residents with severe dementia and Alzheimer’s co-facilitated with a recreation therapist. This group uses multiple sources of sensory stimulation to help residents recall and reminisce about a different theme each week. For Thanksgiving we sang about the harvest, and the recreation therapist brought in gravy for residents to taste (for those who were able), and brought a cup of cranberry apple-cinnamon tea for the residents to smell.
  • “Bell Choir” groups with residents from extended care and veteran’s units. There are two groups, which were formed based on differing levels of functioning. Each week, the groups gather and practice songs to prepare for CD recordings or concerts. One bell choir is currently working towards a concert and CD for “Bell Choir Does the Beatles”, and one bell choir has just started practicing for their Christmas concert.
  • “Movie Music” group with young adult residents on the extended care units. This is a fairly small group, which started because of their common interest in movies. Discussion of movies and their soundtracks has lead to more in-depth discussions on the themes of abandonment, self-identity, family dynamics, and group relationships. Residents often bring in songs or compose poetry or lyrics to represent their feelings on certain topics.
  • “Music Appreciation” group with residents from extended care units. This group gathers weekly, and engages in discussion about different kinds of music. They’ve listened to many different artists, composers, and genres, improvised, and explored music paired with different artistic mediums including art, photography, and dance. Residents discuss their likes and dislikes, and themes that may arise while listening to the music.


There are also multiple sensory stimulation groups in extended care, and large music therapy groups with the veterans.


I started my internship by observing my supervisor and the other music therapist through their group sessions and some of their individual sessions. After about a month, I started receiving referrals from other staff members, and my supervisor invited me to begin leading a couple of groups, and to begin co-facilitating some groups with her and the other music therapist as well. Right now, I am leading/co-leading 4 groups and I am seeing 5 residents individually. I’m also still observing different group and individual sessions lead by my supervisor.


In groups and in individual sessions, I am working with a wide range of client populations, including those with cerebral palsy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, spinal bifida, dementia, post traumatic stress disorder, cancer, residents who have suffered from a stroke, and residents in palliative care.


I’ve really enjoyed the collaborative and interdisciplinary work atmosphere at Wascana. There are daily conferences in which a representative from each member of the care team meets with a resident and a family member to discuss the team’s goals and objectives, assessments, and progress notes for the resident. During these conferences, discussion often takes place about how different members of the team can work together to help work towards goals for the resident, and family members are able to share what they think may be helpful. There are also referral forms for music therapy placed on all of the units so that staff, residents, or family members can fill out a referral if they think a resident may benefit from music therapy. Music therapists are treated as an equal member in the care team; they often collaborate with other therapy staff, and write notes in the resident’s chart for all other disciplines to see.


My internship experience thus far has been one of the most rewarding and positive experiences I’ve ever had. It is very well rounded, and I’m learning so much through my experiences and observations in music, music therapy, psychotherapy, collaborating with other therapies, and working within health care. I think that I learn the most from my clients though. Here’s a short story about one of my individual clients, and we’ll call him Bob.

Bob was having a particularly rough day suffering from hallucinations caused by his PTSD. He explained seeing a guard at the door, as he would have when he was in a POW camp during WW2. He told me that while he knew that there was no way the guard could be there, that was what he was seeing. It was very confusing to him to be aware of his hallucinations, and yet know that they were not real. Bob is a huge fan of classical music. I played a slow Bach piece on the piano, followed by the slow movement of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata (Beethoven is his favourite). After playing, Bob paused and said, “music… music does something for me”. I asked, “What does it do for you?” and he replied, “If you think of the mind as a series of building blocks… when I have hallucinations, my blocks are all falling down and out of order. But when I hear the music… the blocks begin to re-stack themselves, and re-build my mind.”  I asked, “and how do you feel now?” and he replied, “re-aligned”.

If anyone has any questions about my internship, I’d be happy to answer them. Please feel free to email me at .

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Monday Meetings: Meet Dr. Carolyn Arnason!

Faculty Bios - Carolyn Arnason

Carolyn Arnason

Coordinator and Graduate Officer, Masters of Music Therapy

Dr. Arnason specializes in teaching clinical improvisation and supervising graduate students in arts-based music therapy research. In addition to collaborative improvisation concerts, she performs duet repertoire on modern piano and fortepiano with her husband Professor Boyd McDonald, Professor Emeritus Laurier. She conducts psychotherapy sessions with adults using the music-centred methods of improvisational music therapy and the Helen Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM).

She has conducted research with international music therapists on their listening perspectives in improvisational music therapy sessions. Her current research areas include arts-based performative inquiry, the interconnections between musicianship and improvisation, and levels of consciousness in imaginal psychotherapy. She is developing a theory of improvisation called musical transparency that encompasses music therapy practice and improvisation performance.


  • Reflections on change in arts-based research: The experiences of two music therapists, co-authored with Deborah Seabrook. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Available: (2010)
  • Woman to woman: A music therapist’s experience of working with a physically challenged and non-verbal woman. British Journal of Music Therapy, 20(1), 13-21. (2006)
  • Reflections on spiritual dimensions in improvisational music therapy. International Journal of Community Music, Volume B. Available: (2005)
  • Music therapists’ listening perspectives in improvisational music therapy: A qualitative interview study. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 12(2), 124-138. (2003)


Undergraduate Courses – MU454, MU464

Graduate Courses – MU506, MU601

For a more detailed biography of Dr. Carolyn Arnason, please see

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Monday Meetings: Meet Sherry!

Supervisor Bios - Sherry

Sherry Minassian

Music Therapy Training

I graduated from the Masters of Music Therapy program at Laurier in 2009 and became an MTA in 2014.  I have been supervising Laurier undergraduates since 2012.  My internship was completed at St. Joseph Hospital in Guelph, Ontario (Elderly diagnosed with Dementia) and Extendicare in Hamilton, Ontario (long term care).

I have my own practice working as a music therapist with diverse population (adults and children mental health, brain injury, and long term care).

Model of Practice & Clinical Interests

My model of practice is Music-Centered Psychotherapy, which is based on two theories: Aesthetic Music Therapy (Lee, 2003) (AeMT) and Group Analytic Music Therapy (Ahonen, 2007) (GAMT).  A humanistic, client-centered approach in meeting each client’s needs with an awareness of balancing musical and psychological thinking in music therapy sessions and having the music as the core of therapy.

As a vocalist and music therapy, Diane Austin’s Vocal Psychotherapy has largely influenced me as well.  I am passionate about the intersection between music therapy and the music within each person (the inner voice, self) and specifically how it influences students’ experience in facilitating sessions.

Main Client Populations

  • Adult and child mental health
  • Elderly, long-term care
  • Developmentally challenged children and adults

Fun Fact

I have a keen eye for show animals and have groomed and showed cows and won in international shows!!!

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Monday Meetings: Meet Sara!

Faculty Bios - Sara Klinck

 Sara Klinck

Music Therapy Training

I completed my Bachelor of Music Therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2005 and my Master of Music Therapy, also from WLU, in 2013.  I received Accreditation with the Canadian Association for Music Therapy in 2007.

Models of Practice & Areas of Interest

As a music therapist, my approach is multi-faceted.  I consider myself to be therapeutic-relationship-centered, client-centered, and music-centered.  I have experienced profound connections between all three in my clinical work and have drawn from various models and approaches in order to companion clients in their process with music therapy.

My training and education in music-centered models have left their imprint on my use of clinical improvisation in my work.  The influences of music-centered psychotherapy approaches (particularly insight-oriented music psychotherapy) are apparent in my use of both musical and verbal processing with clients in end-of-life and bereavement care.

A significant portion of my clinical experience and interest as a music therapist has been in palliative care.  Over time the professional decision to work in hospice became instrumental in cultivating an approach to music therapy in bereavement care.

Main Research Interests

My area of interest in research is linked to bereavement care, focused on how music therapy can be (and is) accessed by those who are grieving in ways that may aid in the expression of loss, and also in the process of coping and adaptation following profound loss.

Fun Facts

To keep myself grounded, I spend time at the piano and in the garden, and I laugh.

To keep myself nourished, I spend time with the people I love, connect with my community, and I sing.

To keep myself creative, I sew and make things with my hands, and go to experience the arts!



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Monday Meetings: Meet Sarah!

Supervisor Bios - Sarah Pearson

Sarah Pearson

Music Therapy Training

Sarah Pearson completed her MMT at Laurier in 2013, where she completed placements and internships in stroke recovery, adolescent mental health, oncology, and long term care.

Model of Practice & Clinical Interests

During her master’s, Sarah became very interested in community music therapy and feminist music therapy models, and applies these theories directly to her practice in oncology. She sees her role, and the role of music therapy, in the health care setting as a dual one: part-clinician, part arts-in-health representative, and is very excited about music therapy’s ability to address the growing interest in health care to incorporate humanistic practices.

Sarah also works for the Room 217 Foundation, an organization that promotes the broad use of both clinical and non-clinical music as an essential component to caregiving. With Room 217, Sarah has designed and taught a training program for professional and volunteer caregivers in the general principles of music in care.

Main Client Populations

Sarah works at Grand River Hospital as the music therapist in the oncology program, specializing in mainly inpatient and palliative populations.

Fun Fact

Sarah is also a professional choral artist and singer-songwriter, and in her spare time, loves to bike, hike and run, host potlucks, and jam!

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Monday Meetings: Meet Dr. Amy Clements-Cortes!

Faculty Bios - Amy Clements-Cortes

Amy Clements-Cortes

Dr. Amy Clements-Corteshas extensive clinical experience working with a variety of clients including: geriatrics, adult psychiatry, palliative care, children, adolescents and adults with learning disabilities and developmental delays, cognitive impairment, Parkinson’s, stroke, etcetera. Dr. Clements-Cortes has worked both in hospitals and nursing homes, including 17 years at Baycrest Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

Amy obtained her Masters and Doctoral Degrees from the University of Toronto. She has given over 80 conference and/or invited academic presentations around the globe at such venues as the World Federation of Music Therapy and the International Congress on Palliative Care. She has 16 peer reviewed journal publications, several book chapters, and has supervised over 30 music therapy internships, 30 undergraduate research studies, and 3 Masters students MRPs.

Amy is the Clinical Commissioner for the World Federation of Music Therapy, Vice-Chair and BOD Member for the Room 217 Foundation and serves on the Canadian Association of Music Therapy (CAMT) Board of Directors as Past President. Amy is on the editorial review board of the WFMT Journal and Music Therapy Perspectives; and is the Guest Editor of the Canadian Association for Music Therapy 40th Anniversary Journal; Managing Editor for Music and Medicine; co-investigator in the AIRS SSHRC Project; Assistant Professor University of Toronto, MAHRC (LTA), and an approved CBMT Provider.

Her business, Notes by Amy, was founded in 1995 and provides a variety of professional services including: Private Music Therapy and Guided Imagery and Music Sessions, Clinical Music Therapy Supervision and Mentoring, Music Therapy Courses, and Research Collaboration. Amy has recorded several CDs, her latest of which is Soothing Relaxation Journeys.

Academic & Research Interests

Amy’s main research areas of interest include: music therapy; successful, healthy aging and wellbeing across the lifespan; dementia and mental health support; arts in healthcare; relationship completion; singing for health; anxiety; burnout; music for sleep, relaxation and pain; music and technology; vibroacoustic therapy, clinical internship and supervision.

Current Research Projects Include: Buddy’s Glee Club: Phase 3; Rhythmic Sensory Stimulation and AD; and Taking Flight: Music Therapy Internship Experiences from the Eyes of the Pre-Professional.

Her recent scholarly publications include:

  • Clements-Cortes, A. (2014). Adultos en Cuidados Paliativos y Hospicio. In J. Allen (Ed.). Guia Para la Practica de la Musicoterapia con Adultos Bajo Atencion Medico. New Braunfels TX: Barcelona.
  • Clements-Cortes, A. (2013). Burnout in music therapists: Work, individual, and social factors, Music Therapy Perspectives, 31(2), 166-174.
  • Clements-Cortes, A. (2013) Buddy’s Glee Club: Singing for Life, Activities, Adaptation & Aging,37(4), 273-290, DOI: 10.1080/01924788.2013.845716
  • Gordon, M., & Clements-Cortes, A. (2013). Music at the end of life: bringing comfort and saying goodbye through song and story. Annals of Long-Term Care: Clinical Care and Aging, 21(11), 24-29.
  • Clements-Cortes, A. (2013). Freeing the voice within. Canadian Music Educators Journal, 55(1), 19-24.
  • Clements-Cortes, A. (2013). Luba’s theme. Imagine, 40(1), 70-73.
  • Bartel, L, & Clements-Cortes, A. (2014). Dying Healthy: Music in places of palliative care, In G. J. Andrews, P. Kingsbury, & R. A. Kearns, (Eds.). Soundscapes of Wellbeing in Popular Music. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
  • Clements-Cortes, A. (2013). Music as medicine for interdisciplinary team self care and stress management in palliative care, In C. L. McLean (Ed.). Creative Arts in Humane Medicine, Edmonton, Alberta: Brush.
  • Clements-Cortes, A. (2013). Adults in palliative/hospice care, In J. Allen, (Ed.). Guidelines for Music Therapy Practice in Adult Medical Care (pp. 295-346). New Braunfels TX: Barcelona.
  • Clements-Cortes, (2013) A. healing water: Assessing trauma, abuse and loss via guided imagery and music. Kavod Journal,(3).


Undergraduate Course – MU352

Graduate Course – MU503

For a more detailed biography of Dr. Amy Clements-Cortes, please see

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Monday Meetings: Meet Liz!

Supervisor Bios - Liz Mitchell

Liz Mitchell

Music Therapy Training

I graduated from the MMT program at Laurier in 2007, and became an MTA in 2009.  My internship was completed at St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre in Brantford, Ontario (long-term and palliative care), and at Lutherwood Mental Health Services in Waterloo, Ontario (adolescent mental health). I worked as the music therapist at Lutherwood from 2007-2012.

Model of Practice & Clinical Interests

My practice is music-centered and client-centered, largely influenced by Community Music Therapy, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, and humanistic and narrative approaches to counselling and therapy. Recently, I’ve been working to more intentionally integrate an understanding of social justice concerns into my work, balancing my focus on the individual with an awareness of oppressive societal structures. I’m also passionate about the intersection between music therapy and music education, specifically, in students’ experiences within music education that are “therapeutic” in nature. I’m active as a music educator as well; I conduct a children’s choir through the “El Sistema Aeolian” program in London, Ontario, and enjoy teaching piano and voice.

Main Client Populations

  • Child & adolescent mental health
  • Special education
  • Older adults & long-term care

Fun Fact

I’ve recently been learning to roller skate in my spare time, with hopes of one day becoming a fully-fledged derby girl. If anyone can think of a music therapy related derby name, I’m all ears. 🙂

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