Clinical Placements

Clinical Placements

Clinical placements are an integral part of the MA Music Therapy. Students have the opportunity to undertake at least three placements during the programme. We provide a wide range of placements in Ireland and abroad and students can expect supervision from a highly experienced music therapist working in the field. Some examples of placements on offer and profiles of Music Therapists working with us as placement supervisors follow: 

ChildVision: the National Education Centre for Blind Children

Over 150 years old, ChildVision is the only place in Ireland totally dedicated to the education and therapy needs of children and young people with visually and multiple disabilities children. The centre works with children from all over Ireland, ranging in age from birth to 23 years of age. It is made of 2 preschools and a Montessori for children with VI and multiple disabilities, St. Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment, Rosmini Secondary Unit for students with VI and ASD and a Vocational training centre for young adults with VI. The music therapy service was established in 2010 and provides therapy across the campus, two days a week. The therapist, Bill Ahessy provides individual and group sessions as well as joint work with the SLT department. Bill has been practicing as a music therapist since 2008. He trained at the University of Technology in Sydney and completed a Masters through research at the University of Cadiz in Spain. Bill has training in Neurologic Music Therapy and is influenced by Nordoff Robbins and Giant Steps, Australia. His approach is child-centred underpinned by humanistic, developmental and cognitive behavioural theory.


Meath Community Unit, Dublin 8

The Meath Community Unit is a HSE run residential unit and day care centre for older people with a range of conditions including: Dementia, mental health difficulties, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and physical disabilities. In 2009, music therapist Bill Ahessy conducted a randomised control trial at the Unit examining the effect of a music therapy choir on the mood, quality of life and cognitive function of older people. The results of this study were significant and a 2.5 day post was created. The music therapist works as part of the multidisciplinary team which includes: GPs, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, dietician and SLT. Bill trained at the University of Technology in Sydney and later completed a Masters through research at the University of Cadiz in Spain. A Diploma in Person-centred Dementia care (University of Surrey) and training in Dementia Care Mapping and have been instrumental in the development of his practice and in understanding of the lived experience of people with dementia. The music therapist uses a person-centred and integrated approach in his work with individual and groups sessions as well as facilitating the music therapy choir once a week. A second music therapist works at the unit one day a week.


Music Therapy Service at the National Rehabilitation Hospital

The music therapy service provides specialist music therapy assessment and treatment to patients at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in the Brain Injury and the Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness Programmes and to children and adolescents within the Paediatric programme.

There are two music therapists working within the service; Rebecca O’Connor, Senior Music Therapist and Dee Grey, Music Therapy Researcher.

In the music therapy service at the N.R.H. the majority of music therapy sessions are jointly run with therapy professionals from the interdisciplinary teams. The music therapist aims to enhance the work of the inter-disciplinary team using music based methods as a catalyst to stimulate change.  Research demonstrates the benefits and importance of music therapy as part of interdisciplinary rehabilitation treatment programmes. Kennelly (2001) states:  ‘meeting the needs of patients in rehabilitation requires an interdisciplinary approach whereby a variety of health care professionals work together in planning and coordinating each patient’s programme.  The music therapist is a recognised allied health professional who plays an integral role in this team approach’.

The service provides music therapy intervention in the form of:

  • Individual therapy sessions, i.e. therapy sessions provided by the music therapist to address specific rehabilitation goals
  • Interdisciplinary assessment and interventions, these involve working alongside other members of the Paediatric or Brain Injury Programme team, e.g. occupational therapy, psychologist, speech and language therapist, physiotherapist etc. Sessions take the form of joint collaborative sessions where the music therapist works with other professionals on addressing specific shared rehabilitation goals.
  • Music therapy sessions with family members
  • Collaborative music therapy group sessions for clients and family members, specifically within the paediatric programme where siblings are invited to attend where appropriate.  Groups are co- run with all members of the inter disciplinary team.
  • MATADOC assessment for PDOC adult and paediatric patients
  • Interdisciplinary treatment sessions with family members within the music therapy research project for PDOC adult and paediatric patients
  • Assessment sessions with neuropsychology where the O’Connor O’Doherty Assessment Tool is applied

Research is also a valuable component of the music therapy service.  A three year Music Therapy research project funded by the NRH Foundation Trust commenced in September 2013 with the PDOC adult and paediatric patients.

The title of the Research project is:

Research project to assess the Music Therapy Assessment Tool for Awareness in Disorders of Consciousness (MATADOC), identifying its benefits in assessing patients’ levels of response, contributing to diagnosis and treatment planning as well as monitoring change in PDOC patients.

Music therapy students from UL have been placed at the NRH music therapy service as part of their training since 2009.

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