The MA in Music Therapy provides the community with qualified, competent and socially conscious music therapy professionals who have undertaken a comprehensive and thorough examination of the relationship between human experience, behaviour and music; with consideration of this relationship in a music therapy context.
The MA in Music Therapy is the only degree in Ireland leading to a professional qualification in music therapy. The international growth of the professional discipline of Music Therapy is a consequence of the growing interest in, and need for, professions supplementary to medicine in health care, as well as the development of expert allied health practice in special education. Entry to the course is adjudged through a rigorous audition and in-depth interview process with a panel of experts.
Qualified music therapists use the unique characteristics of music in musical interaction to support people who have additional needs because of medical, psychological, physical or emotional problems. Qualified Music Therapists work as members of a multidisciplinary team and are considered part of the Allied Health professional work force in hospitals, nursing homes, hostels, clinics and schools.
Music therapy is an established psychological clinical intervention, which is delivered by qualified music therapists, to help people of all ages, whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs. The discipline of music therapy embraces a range of approaches to practice. Reflective of the diverse range of practice on the island of Ireland, the theoretical orientation of the MA Music Therapy at IWAMD is eclectic. The student is introduced to a range of approaches within this evidence-based therapy, including humanistic, behavioural, psychodynamically informed and receptive music therapy approaches. The aim is for the student to be a well-equipped entry level eclectic music therapist upon qualification.
Placements are organised by the programme in conjunction with qualified music therapists employed on the island. Opportunities currently exist for placements with experienced qualified music therapists in a variety of health, social and education services. Students currently complete three placements with a total of 53 days (424 hours). . The costs of travel to and from placement and any costs such as purchasing music or having to stay overnight if the placement is not local to Limerick must be covered by the student. Some placements in the UK are also available.
To become a music therapist, students must have opportunities to understand, integrate and apply information in seminar settings with peers as well as in clinical or educational contexts with a wide client base. Practitioners must be flexible, insightful and sensitive to others without being overwhelmed by the needs of clients. To this end, part of the educational process in this course involves personal development through group and individual therapy. In addition, students are provided with opportunities to consider and reflect on their practical and theoretical learning throughout the course.
The music therapy MA program of study at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance provides a balance between the areas of clinical practice, empirical research and scientific theory. The clinical practice requirements include supervised field experience with children and adults in a range of local health care settings. Empirical research components emphasise the systematic evaluation of musical and non-musical behaviour. Scientific theory emphasises the organisational relationships among the various facets of clinical practice and empirical research, pursuant to theories of music psychology and human development. The educational approach taken is firmly rooted in action learning within a student centred approach; thus the importance of moving freely between theoretical knowledge, music-making, and concrete problem-solving is recognised and valued.
The course has developed educational partnerships with health care professionals and services nationally and there is a regular programme of specialist guest lectures from international speakers. The programme hosts seminars for the professional music therapy and wider health care community on a regular basis and offers advice regarding music therapy appointments and music therapy initiatives within Ireland. These partnerships support the broad learning objectives of the programme and encourage students to consider different approaches to music therapy practice in Ireland, Europe and beyond.
The course is based on educational principles that provide an outstanding academic, clinical and professional foundation for the development of music therapy in the Republic of Ireland.
Quality control within the course
All courses at the University of Limerick are required to implement regulated quality control procedures. The MA in music therapy is assessed via a system of second marking in a high proportion of the total student work submitted for assessment within the degree. In addition, an external examiner, internationally recognised as an expert and leader in the field, attends final viva examinations each year of the program and advises the grade of award of the degree. For the period 2019 – 2022 we are delighted to welcome Dr. Barbara Wheeler as our External Examiner.
Career opportunities for Graduate Music Therapists exist within the Republic of Ireland and overseas. Graduates who have applied for Registration with the Australian, USA and UK Music Therapy Accreditation bodies have been successful, providing evidence that the course has equivalence with Music Therapy training in other English speaking countries. The course is registered with the European Music Therapy Confederation.