Kim’s Music Therapy Journey

Kimberly Dolan. Music Therapy. Journey. Certified. Music Therapist. Kingston, Ontario.

From a very young age, music had always been a passion of mine. I began to sing as soon as I could open my mouth and began playing piano at the age of 4. I used to love writing lyrics and performing them acapella to my family when spending summers at my Grandparents’. When I was in grade 6 I became drawn to the guitar and began playing at a variety of open mics and coffee houses at my school and in the community. Music quickly became a primary outlet for me to express my emotions, both good and bad, and I wanted to share this somehow.

As I came close to the end of high school, I found myself searching for a way to integrate music into my life without going into performance. At this point I didn’t yet know anything about the field of music therapy and was leaning towards my other interest, psychology. I paid a visit to my school guidance counsellor and they had me take a career test, which I am extremely thankful for. After inputting all of my skills and interests, the screen came back telling me I should be a Music Therapist. Cool…I had no idea what that meant but I was pretty excited to combine my love of music with my love for people and I knew I wanted to do that. I immediately began researching and trying to understand what that would look like, and what I had to do to get there.

In fall of 2010 I arrived at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario in the honours psychology program. I became fascinated with the human mind and body, and pursued this while continuing to research and explore the concept of Music Therapy. After completing my undergrad, I applied to the Masters of Music Therapy Program at Wilfrid Laurier, and was accepted to start in fall 2015.

Starting in May 2013 I began participating in month long trips to a a variety of countries with Global Youth Volunteer network with the purpose of learning and immersing myself in the culture. On these trips I met many incredible people and sparked my passion for working in community and connecting with people. In Winter 2016, I traveled to Modesto California to work with our YWAM partners. They have created a space in which individuals from the street community can come and be in connection with one another and share a meal. It is truly a special environment and it’s there that I fell in love with hearing peoples stories and building community.

Upon returning to my Masters program following this trip, a professor of mine noticed my mindset change and encouraged me to express interest in the Internship at a women’s correctional facility. I was nervous and very uncertain of my abilities, but I took the time to speak with past students and my supervisors, and decided to take a leap of faith and go for it. This has been one of the best decisions I could have made, and it has shaped my approach to therapy. I spent almost a year at this facility working in group and individual settings with the women. I had an opportunity to hear their stories and sit with them in challenging times. My time at this facility left an impact on my heart and continues to propel me to advocate for those who are not as able to do so for themselves.

I approach Music Therapy with a psychotherapeutic and person centered framework. I believe that everyone should have access to the resources needed and that we often need to explore our traumas and challenges in order to heal.

“It’s not at all hard to understand a person; it’s only hard to listen without bias.” -Chriss Jami

After completing my Masters program including my 1000 hour internship and supervision, and passing the board certification exam in fall 2017, I moved back to my hometown of Kingston and was lucky enough to join the Find Your Voice team. The Music Therapy scene has rapidly grown in the Kingston area and I continue to explore not only my development as an MTA, but also as an advocate for the field. I hope to continue to educate people about the benefits of music therapy and understanding the depth of this profession.