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

ChildVision is the only place in Ireland totally dedicated to the education and therapy needs of children and young people with visual impairment and multiple disabilities. The campus consists of two preschools and a Montessori; the Rosmini secondary unit for students with VI and ASD, a vocational training centre for young adults with VI and St. Joseph’s Primary School for Children with Visual Impairment. ChildVision has a specialized therapeutic team including a nursing, physiotherapy, two speech therapists and two occupational therapists who oversee the equine therapy programme. 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 well as some joint work with the SLT and other departments. 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 Community Music Therapy. He has a child-centred and integrated approach underpinned by humanistic, developmental and cognitive theory. Students on placement at the centre will be based in St. Joseph’s Primary School working with children from 5-12 years old. They will also have the opportunity to work with some of the preschool age children.

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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. The music therapy service was created here in 2009 following a research study funded by the Meath Foundation. A randomised control trial examined 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 it was presented at the 10th European Music Therapy Congress and published in Music and Medicine. The music therapist, Bill Ahessy 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 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. Susan Hurley, a graduate of the MA in Music Therapy at UL works in the unit one day a week conducting individual work with clients and co-facilitating the music therapy choir. Students will have the opportunity to work with older adults in individual and group sessions as well exposure to the use of choir work in music therapy.


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. The NRH Music Therapy Service and the Music Therapy Department at UL are now research partners, with a shared study commencing in Sept 2017, with Dr Hilary Moss(PhD Supervisor) and Ms Rebecca O’Connor (Clinical Supervisor).

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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Every Day Harmony, Music Therapy is proud to support the University of Limerick in providing placement opportunities for Music Therapy students. Our organisation was established in 1990 by Dr Michael Swallow OBE, a consultant neurologist who passionately believed in the positive effect of Music Therapy in treating a range of conditions.

At Every Day Harmony we are committed to supporting people with mental health issues, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, trauma related issues, neurological disease and terminal illness. Our therapists work across a range of settings in Northern Ireland including Health Care Facilities, Nursing Homes, Hospitals, Hospices and schools. We also work with the Victims and Survivors Service.

In 2014 we completed a research study with QUB called ‘Music in Mind’ looking at the impact of music therapy for children and adolescents with mental health issues. This was the largest randomised-control trial of its kind ever carried out, and the results (soon to be published) showed that there is a statistical significant impact on self-esteem and depression, and that this continues well after the actual therapy has ended.

Currently we are carrying out a feasibility study with QUB and Marie Curie Belfast, looking at the impact of music therapy on the quality of life of palliative care patients.

Every Day Harmony, Music Therapy is registered with the Charities Commission NI and employs 12 Music Therapists.

As one of our student supervisors, Qiaoyi Li, herself a graduate from University of Limerick says, “I am very aware of the challenges that students may have to overcome during their clinical placement. I always support student therapists to explore and identify their own strengths and style during their placement and use that to help their clients. These are the skills that can benefit students in the long run.”

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everyday harmony

Lauralynn Irelands Children’s Hospice is a national service that offers a range of holistic supports for children with life limiting conditions and their family members.

The music therapist offers individual and group music therapy sessions to children and young adults attending Lauralynn house either for assessment/ respite/crisis/outpatient or end of life services on a referral basis. Children are prioritised based on their level of need. The music therapist works with individual families to address specific goals, such as enhancing interaction/engagement, emotional support, promoting relaxation, enhancing communication, bereavement support, memory making and legacy work – with the overall aim of maximising quality of life for each child and their family

The therapist works collaboratively with the interdisciplinary team including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, play therapist, chaplain, social worker and volunteer-co coordinator. The music therapist and occupational therapist run an outreach service supporting families in the community.

The music therapist also supports the siblings of children who attend the service who may need a space to express themselves and process their feelings through the accessible and non-threatening medium of music. Other roles include organising musical events at the hospice, training for staff and volunteers, planning and running music activities during camps for families. The music therapist also runs a staff choir that perform at hospice events including memorial services and can assist families with planning music for funeral/services.

Laura lynn

Haven House Hospice for Children in the UK offers observation placements for music therapy students. Music Therapy Maeve Rigney offers students a wonderful experience observing her work in a highly specialised environment.





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