Mallory Warkentin. Registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Music Therapist
TURN YOUR MAGIC INTO MUSIC
I grew up in both the city and near nature, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. There is so much beauty and rustic land near Niagara Falls, I feel grateful for the many hiking trails on the Escarpment that were near my home, and the fun and flashing lights of the busy downtown, it really was the best of both worlds. As a teen, I worked summer jobs at tourist attractions and spent many a sunny day staring at the wonders of the falls. From a young age I was drawn to music, I sang in a choir before I could even read the hymn book. I loved poetry and songwriting, and I was always learning a new song on the piano that I could sing along with, or blasting music in my bedroom while doing schoolwork (until I was firmly instructed to use headphones). Today my go-to instrument is guitar, although I am also really starting to love playing music on my ukulele. My family was a blended one, I lived with my parents and my little sister, and I had an older half-sister. I often felt unsure of my place within our home, was I a middle child, or an eldest? It felt like it was my responsibility to help to keep the peace. I learned how to listen and empathize with everyone, to try and understand all sides of a disagreement.
PASSION FOR MUSIC IS THE START
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I became aware that being a therapist was an occupation. I knew about social workers and thought that would be something I’d like to do, to help people, but I wished there could be a way to add my creativity and love of music within a helping profession. I decided to go to university and pursue my Bachelor of Arts in Music, and to take psychology courses to try and decide on a career. I really enjoyed learning about psychology, how our minds work, how we can be affected by our thoughts or our upbringing, and about the human condition in general.
When I was completing my undergrad at Brock University, I started to hear about something called music therapy. The more I learned, the more I realized that this was the perfect fusion between my love of music, and my skills for supporting, listening, and empathizing with people. Becoming a music therapist was the career that I had been searching for! The idea of using music to help improve people's lives was exactly the path I’d wanted to take. I was accepted into the Masters of Music Therapy program at Wilfrid Laurier University and once I got here there was no turning back. I trained and became an accredited music therapist.
Since graduating I have worked with a wide range of individuals from as young as 9 months old to over 100 years old! Music is such a great tool to be able to work with because its different elements really help to draw out unique results for each individual regardless of their ability level or knowledge of music. We can use music to help calm our nerves, to excite or motivate us, to express ourselves, to relate to others and much more. For young people, getting support through music therapy can help them to find and connect their inner voice, when before they may have been lacking the confidence to speak out their truth.
Music therapy looks different for different people depending on what it is we are trying to achieve in therapy. Some of the things we might do in a session is look at the lyrics of songs and talk about how they make you feel, making a playlist of music that can get you through a hard day, learning how to use music and musical elements as a tool to help you relax or regulate. Participating in the music making process is something else that can be very therapeutic, and you can do this regardless of musical background or training. An example of this might include experimenting with different instruments or household items in your house that make noise to express an emotion without using words. Creating an original piece with the help and support from a music therapist can be a very powerful and meaningful experience for some clients, and developing musical affirmations or mantras can also be very powerful.
If my way of providing therapy support through music connects with you, please reach out! Let’s talk and see if music therapy might be a good fit for you.