UK gets music therapy program



By Liz Breed

UK will be the first university in Kentucky to offer a graduate degree in music therapy in the School of Music.

The Council on Postsecondary Education officially approved on the program on Nov. 10, and students will be accepted starting in spring 2012.

Lori Gooding, who is now the director of the music therapy master’s program, became involved with the development of the program in 2010.

“I started in July and started doing paperwork,” Gooding said. “The program still needed to go through the four stages of approval. Now we’re just waiting on the fourth, which will happen after students graduate.”

The process for this program started in 2010 and the timing couldn’t have been any better, Gooding said.

“We received a grant at the right time,” Gooding said. “The timing for this program was just perfect.”

Cecilia Wang, a music education professor, is pleased that the program is coming to UK.

Wang has been teaching at UK for more than 30 years and music therapy has always been important to her.

“Most people don’t know what music therapy is,” she said. “Ever since I started I wanted to have an opportunity to teach this.”

Music therapy is using music to improve or maintain one’s health. It is commonly used in hospitals, mental or physical health facilities and even for rehabilitation purposes. It has proven to help patients with varying disorders or illnesses such as depression, epilepsy and even heart disease.

“Students will take courses in three different areas: music therapy, music and electives,” Gooding said. “The therapy classes will teach them various counseling techniques, the music classes will further their knowledge and the electives will provide some addition knowledge. Students will also do clinical work where they will see actual patients.”

The program is not just for students with an undergraduate degree in music or music therapy, Gooding said.

“There is also a master’s equivalency program. This means that a student who doesn’t have an undergrad in music therapy can take classes to make up the credits they missed and do it in a shorter amount of time,” Gooding said.

Shane Swezey, who works under Gooding, will begin his graduate studies when the program opens in the spring of 2012.

“I am working as a therapist. I won’t be doing any teaching, other than supervising the equivalency students,” Swezey said.

Swezey is currently a therapist at UK HealthCare and has an undergraduate degree in music therapy.

The world of music therapy may be unknown to the rest of the universities in the nation, but UK is about to be one of the few who will become more informed.