Halifax music therapist helps seniors

Carol Dobson

Halifax Herald

From cradle to grave, music is a powerful force. A lullaby can soothe a crying baby.

Teen girls swan over their favourite musical idols. For those living with dementia or similar diseases of aging, a familiar song can bring the person they once were back to the surface for a few precious moments.

Music therapy is a form of health care that can be helpful to people in a wide variety of circumstances, from those with autism, cognitive disorders, conditions that limit mobility, brain damage, developmental disabilities — the list is endless.

Mackenzie Costron is a graduate of Acadia University’s bachelor of music therapy program and has been practising in Kingston, Ont., since 2014.

Her company, Find Your Voice Music Therapy, launched in the Halifax area in July, making it the second location.

“I specialize in working with seniors with Alzheimer’s (disease) and other dementias,” she says. “I also work in areas such as mental health and palliative care, but I also work with children and people of all ages. My work is not limited to a specific age group.”

Costron’s practice is mobile, allowing her to work with clients in a variety of settings, from special care homes to schools to private homes.

“If a caregiver decides their loved one would benefit from music therapy, I can come to their home,” she says. “That gives the caregiver a time of respite while the therapy session is underway. Also, if I’m working with a child, I can come and have the session with the child while the parents are getting supper ready.”

She says she’s also offered sessions in schools where music therapy has been included in the regular curriculum because of music’s effectiveness in a person’s educational and emotional development.

“One of the reasons I love working with Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients is because music connects individuals,” she says. “Music can connect the patient with their inner-self and with their memories and the people they know. These diseases disconnect a person from who they are and music helps them reconnect.”

In addition to being an accredited music therapist (MTA), Costron is also a registered counselling therapist with the Nova Scotia College of Counselling Therapists. As a result, her clients, including those registered with Veterans Affairs Canada and other agencies, can use their extended insurance coverage for music therapy services.

“It’s exciting to be back in the HRM where my training as an accredited music therapist began at Acadia University,” she says. “Even more so that our services can become more accessible to individuals in the community who may have not had these resources.”