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'Wellsville' highlights music therapy

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

As a music therapist, Craig Stevens has worked with all kinds of challenging audiences, from learning disabled youth to stroke victims. The director of music therapy at Mercyhurst University will share his experiences with the Wellsvilleaudience this Friday, when its crew visits campus to tape an interview with Stevens and associate professor of music Scott Meier, Ph.D., for an upcoming program.

“Wellsville is doing a special on the benefits of music for developing early academic skills in school age children, and also the benefits of music therapy within the field of medicine, developmental disabilities and neurological rehab,” Stevens said. 

According to its website, Wellsville combines education and entertainment (“edu-tainment”) to inspire and empower kids and families to L.E.A.P. – learn, embrace and actively practice healthy living. The Saturday morning TV program is carried on Fox 66 at 8.

Stevens came to Mercyhurst two years ago when the university established the first music therapy degree in the region. He also maintains a private practices involving neurologic rehabilitation with brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease and developmental disabilities, among them autism.

Music therapists use their skills to improve the health of their clients’ physical and/or mental functioning as well as their quality of life. The case of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who suffered a devastating gunshot injury to her brain and regained her speech in large part thanks to music therapy, has fueled curiosity about this treatment modality.

Stevens said he got interested in the field when he saw how playing the guitar for his father, who was dying of cancer at the time, relaxed him and lessened his anxiety. Music-based therapies appear to also have beneficial effects on pain levels, mood, and certain vital signs, like blood pressure.

For more information on music therapy, contact Stevens at cstevens@mercyhurst.edu.