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Heartbeats Music Therapy

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Based in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, Emily Denison is the certified music therapist behind Heartbeats Music Therapy. Emily offers both individual and group services to aging adults and children of all abilities, specializing in ASD, chronic health conditions, and other developmental diagnoses. Emily's work addresses client-centred goals through individualized music experiences that support the individual's development and well-being.

For more general information about music therapy, check out the FAQ page, the Canadian Association of Music Therapists (CAMT)'s website here, or the Music Therapy Association of British Columbia (MTABC)'s website here.


Photo of music therapist Emily Denison Emily Denison (she/her) is a certified music therapist (MTA #1260). She completed her Graduate Diploma in Music Therapy at Concordia University which included practicum placements working with adults and seniors in long-term care, children with physical and developmental disabilities at a specialized school, and preschool-aged children in an Early Childhood Education setting. Emily has long been passionate about supporting children in their development and currently also works as a Behaviour Interventionist with children with ASD. Her diverse background also includes experience as a performer, teacher, caregiver, and support worker with diverse populations.

Emily holds a Bachelor of Performance in Jazz Trumpet from the University of Toronto. Her eclectic musical experience includes classical violin, various types of North American old-time and fiddle music, contemporary improvised music, traditional swing, original composition, and more. She brings this broad creativity into her music therapy practice, often composing original songs for clients or improvising in real time with her voice and guitar.

Trussmark from the MTA
Emily playing guitar


What is Music Therapy?

The Canadian Association of Music Therapists defines music therapy as “a discipline in which credentialed professionals (MTAs) use music purposefully within therapeutic relationships to support development, health, and well-being. Music therapists use music safely and ethically to address human needs within cognitive, communicative, emotional, musical, physical, social, and spiritual domains.” For more information from CAMT, visit their website.
What does the MTA credential mean?

MTA (Music Therapist Accredited) is the credential awarded to certified music therapists by the Canadian Association of Music Therapists. Accredited music therapists complete a Bachelor's degree or a Graduate Certificate in music therapy and a 1000-hour supervised clinical internship. University coursework consists of supervised clinical fieldwork placements and academic study in the areas of music therapy research, music, and psychology. Upon completion of an internship, graduates take the CBMT Exam and after passing this exam, can apply for MTA Certification signifying they are qualified to work in the field and will adhere to the CAMT Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. MTAs must then engage in continuing education in order to maintain their credential.
What happens in a music therapy session?

It depends! Following an assessment, individual goals and a treatment plan specifying particular interventions are developed for each client. Depending on the client, both active (making music) and receptive (listening to/receiving music) methods may be used. From the outside, a child's music therapy session may look like we're having fun playing musical games together. An older adult's music therapy session may look like we're singing familiar songs together and chatting about them. Often there is lots more going on beneath the surface…

The possibilities are endless, but here are some examples:
  • singing may be used to address speech/language-related goals, stimulate positive memories and emotions, develop social skills, or increase confidence
  • instruments might be played to help clients develop/maintain fine- and gross- motor skills, teach academic concepts, increase emotional expression, or practice leadership skills
  • listening to live or recorded music might be used to facilitate target movements or skills, develop/maintain attention and memory, or provide tools for emotional regulation
  • composing/songwriting may be done by the therapist to create material specific to the client's preferences, needs, or to facilitate a specific skill; or may be done collaboratively with a client/group to facilitate self-expression, process emotions, increase the sense of identification within a group, or as a legacy project at the end of life
Do I need musical skills/knowledge to benefit from music therapy?

Not at all! There are no wrong notes in music therapy. As an MTA, I have learned how to select and create music interventions that suit each individual client and support our primary goal areas in therapy. Your musical preferences and history will be taken into account. If you do play an instrument and want to explore using it throughout our process, that is also welcome!

Have more questions? Contact me.

Services and Fees

Costs for services have been determined using guidelines provided by the Music Therapy Association of BC, which can be found by clicking here. If costs are a barrier to you accessing services, please contact me directly to discuss options.

You are invited to schedule a 15-minute initial phone consultation, free of charge, to determine whether Heartbeats is the right fit for your needs.

Initial consultation An opportunity to meet, ask any questions you may have, and determine if this is the right fit for you. 15 minutes. Free
Individual Session (in client's home) The music therapist will bring all the necessary instruments and materials. Typically 50 minutes, unless otherwise discussed with client/caregiver. $75
Group Session Groups are typically formed by referral from the MTA and collaborations with other professionals, but if you have a request or an idea for a group, contact me. Rates are determined at the beginning of each program (usually 8-12 sessions) based on group size, location, nature of program, and space rental costs. Typically 50 minutes unless otherwise discussed. $40-$75
Cancellation Cancellations with less than 24 hours notice will be charged at full session rate.
For Organizations Due to the diverse needs of organizations, fees will be discussed on an individual basis. According to MTABC's guidelines, contract fees vary from $55-90 per clinical hour. Please contact me if you would like to discuss establishing a contract at your organization.

Music therapy services are not typically covered by extended health care plans, but some ICBC claims may be eligible for coverage. Provincial Autism Funding may also be directed towards music therapy services for children aged 6 and up. If you have questions about funding, feel free to contact me directly - I may not have the answer right away, but I am happy to work together to find it!


Please use the email address below for any inquiries or to book an initial consultation. I will get back to you as soon as possible!