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Why I support Music Therapy for mental health

Liz

Interview with Liz Mitchell, Registered Psychotherapist, Accredited Music Therapist and PhD. candidate.

I was a teenager when my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As her disease progressed, playing piano for her was one of the only ways I could catch a glimpse of the person she had been and still was. It was amazing to see how she lit up - through music. Witnessing this made me want to learn more about music’s role in healthcare. As I faced personal and family challenges in my teenage years, I experienced firsthand the ways that I could express myself using music. These factors prompted me to make music therapy my career. 

I was the Music Therapist at Lutherwood for five years, and feel so lucky to have started my career there. The staff immediately understood how music therapy complemented the youths’ mental health treatment and it was exciting to witness the difference that music could make. 

I worked with one girl who had been negatively influenced by an older boyfriend and was caught doing crime. She was so desperate for approval and love. We wrote a pop song together during her time at Lutherwood about believing in herself and leaving her boyfriend. She found her voice. She was proud to perform the song for others and take the recording home. I can still recite every lyric 10 years later – her work was so moving!

I decided to support the program with a monthly donation because I want to see it thrive and grow. I truly believe in the role of arts and music in health care. Talk therapy is challenging for many clients and talking about trauma with kids and youth isn’t always possible. Or it might not be the right time. But music can be a life-line for adolescents as they learn to experience and cope with big emotions.

The work of the Lutherwood Foundation, raising funds for the music therapy program, makes such a huge difference in the quality of life for the youth there. It’s one of the elements that makes the place feel more like a home or a regular school. I wish arts therapies was covered by government funding but it’s not. And it’s often a part of treatment that youth remember most from their time at Lutherwood.

I know I’m not building a hospital wing with my small gift, but music therapy makes a big difference in the life of an adolescent. Giving monthly to this program is a way I can support kids and the arts, and a way that I can give back to Lutherwood for the support I received there. It’s an honour to give!

If you would like to support music therapy, the arts and other mental health supports for youth, you can give online at www.lutherwood.ca/foundation, or contact us at 519-884-1470 to set up your monthly gift.