B.Mus., MTA, MA, PhD



PhD, University of British Columbia, 2004.

MA, California State University, 1999.

Fellow with the Association for Music and Imagery (FAMI), 1992.

Music Therapist Accredited (MTA), 1990.

Diploma in Music Therapy, Capilano University, 1989.

B.Mus. (Composition), University of Alberta, 1985.

"Excellence in music therapy practice requires an ongoing pursuit of effective use of music and creative arts interventions, use of self and the rapport between client and therapist."


Kevin Kirkland (PhD, University of British Columbia, 2004) is a core faculty member of the Music Therapy program since 2009 and teaches half-time. He also works as a certified (accredited) music therapist (MTA) with adults in treatment for mental health and addictions issues in an inpatient setting.

He began his career in music therapy working at long-term care facilities, which expanded into work at other similar sites including extended care. My focus on the spiritual needs of the elderly led to collaboration with a spiritual care practitioner, which culminated in a book called Full Circle: Spiritual Therapy for the Elderly.

After the music therapy training I also began studies in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery & Music, completing all three levels over the next few years and continue to use in adapted form in the concurrent disorders setting. His work and research interests in these settings led to a masters degree in the Humanities at California State University. where I created a model of music therapy that was centered around spirituality, as I could see the importance of meaning, hope, and connection as central to care of the elderly.

Kevin later completed a Ph.D. in 2004 on the topic of the trauma of childhood sexual abuse and the creative arts at the Centre for Curriculum and Instruction at UBC. These studies have proved useful in concurrent disorders, where 80-90% of the clients have a history of trauma in their lives. I was editor of the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, and am past president of both the Canadian Association of Music Therapists and the Music Therapy Association of BC. Kevin brings a research-informed, music-based and depth perspective to the classroom.

Teaching part time and working as a music therapist part time makes for a combination that I love, because my work in concurrent disorders informs my teaching and vice versa.

While I do love theories and models, I look for ways these are actually applied to music therapy practice. And while I'm drawn to many models of music therapy I am very eclectic in my approach because if something else might work, I'll draw from it.

This means I teach from many perspectives: existential, humanistic, psychodynamic, behavioural, medical, community, recovery, and many more. I am particularly drawn to the expressive arts / creative arts and how these methods can be used to symbolically or metaphorically reveal the Self.

My research interests continue to be mainly practice-based, initially stemming from my many years of working with the elderly in long-term care settings. It was in my co-leadership with professionals from spiritual care practice that I began to look at the role of music and spirituality and the vital roles these elements play in the lives of persons in nursing home and extended care settings.

I am currently part of a team that is publishing several aspects of a large study on the effectiveness of music therapy with persons with Alzheimer Disease in both individual and group settings, the latter being with caregivers present. This study was done in collaboration with the Department of Neurology and the Department of Nursing at UBC.

Kirkland, K., & King, S. H. (2019). Rap & Recovery: A music therapy process-oriented intervention for adults with concurrent disorders. Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy, 11(1).

Kirkland, K., Fortuna, M.C., Kelson, E., Phinney, A. Music, spirituality, and meaning: A mixed methods study on the effectiveness of a combined music therapy and spiritual care group for persons with dementia. Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, 18(1).

Kirkland, K. Music therapy and your health: Healing through music. Family Health (Spring): 18-19.

Kirkland, K. (Editor). International dictionary of music therapy. London: Routledge Press.

Kirkland, K., Summers, S. Research in music therapy: Proposal, protocol, and process. Proceedings of the 38thconference of the Canadian Association for Music Therapy.

Kirkland, K. Navigating art therapy: A therapists companion. (book review). Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, 17(1).

Kirkland, K., McIlveen, H., Boelhouwer, M., van der Wal, P. 'k Zou zo graag een ketting rijgen (2nd revised ed.).Dutch translation of Full Circle (1999).

Kirkland, K. An interview with Dr. Denise Grocke. Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, 16(1), 117-122.

Kirkland, K. (Book review) Episodes of relationship completion through song: Case studies of music therapy research in palliative care by Amy Clements-Cortes. Submitted to Music Therapy Perspectives.

Kirkland, K. An interview with David Akombo. Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, 15(1), 68-71.

Kirkland, K. River Bed. Performative work featured in Educational Insights 13(2), 2009. http://ccfi.educ.ubc.ca/publication/insights/v13n02/toc.html

Kirkland, K. Suffering and the sublime: A case study of music, metaphor, and meaning. Association for Music & Imagery. (peer reviewed journal article)

Kirkland, K. A grim fairy tale. In Jacobs, D. Four Arrows (Ed.) The authentic dissertation: Alternative ways of knowing, research and representation. London: Routledge. (Book chapter).

Kirkland, K., & Leggo, C. A grim fairy tale: Taboo, mythopoetics, and truth telling. In J. G. Knowles, A. L. Cole, L. Neilsen, & S. Promislow (Eds.). Creating scholartistry: Imagining the arts-informed thesis or dissertation. Halifax, NS & Toronto, ON: Backalong Books & Centre for Arts-informed Research. (Book chapter).

Kirkland, K. Thinking about assessment: Assessing your thinking. The Drumbeat, 8(1), 14-15. (Newsletter article).

Kirkland, K. Abuse in gay male relationships: A discussion paper. Health Canada: Family Violence Prevention Unit. (Health Report).

Kirkland, K. Country of the month: Canada. Voices: A world forum for music therapy. http://www.voices.no/country/monthcanadajan02.html

Kirkland, K., & McIlveen, H. Full circle: Spiritual therapy for the elderly. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press. (Book).

Kirkland, K., & McIlveen, H. Full Circle: Spiritual therapy for people with dementia. American Journal of Alzheimers Disease and Other Dementias, 14(4), 245-247. (peer reviewed journal artricle).

Kirkland, K., & McIlveen, H. Full Circle: Spiritual therapy for people with dementia. Healing Ministry, 6(5), 181-184. (peer reviewed journal article, simultaneously published with the former).

Kirkland, K. Sound and silence: Music therapy in palliative care. In S. L. Bertman (Ed.), Grief and the healing arts: Creativity as therapy. Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing. (Book chapter).

Alzheimer Society of Canada research grant: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Group Music Therapy in the Out-Patient Care of Moderate Alzheimer Disease: A patient and caregiver outcome study. Co-investigators: Dr. Robin Hsiung, Dr. Claudia Jacova, Dr. Lara Boyd, Dr. Alison Phinney, Dr. Lynn Beattie. $200,000.

Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute research grant: A randomized controlled study to assess the health benefits of music therapy in patients with Alzheimer Disease. Principal Investigator. Co-investigators: Dr. Robin Hsiung, Dr. Claudia Jacova, Dr. Lara Boyd. $30,000.

BC Network for Aging Research: Pilot study seed grant. Functional MRI of music processing in dementia. Co-investigators: Dr. Robin Hsiung, Dr. Claudia Jacova, Dr. Lara Boyd. $4900.

VCH Professional Practice: Nursing, Allied Health & Interprofessional Research Grant. Spirituality, music, and meaning in dementia care with extended care persons: A pilot study. Principal Investigator. Co-investigators: Dr. Alison Phinney, Mary Catherine Fortuna. $5000.

BC Association of Clinical Counsellors Appreciation Award.

Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund: Award to MTABC for outstanding editorial quality of The Drumbeat($1,000).

University Graduate Fellowship, UBC. $16,000.

Health Sciences Association Scholarship. $750.

Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund Michael Cohl Fellowship. $4,000.

MTABC Life Membership Award.

Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund grant for work at UBC Hospital psychiatry unit $20,000.

CAMT Peer Recognition Award for Publishing.

CAMT Life Membership (Norma Sharpe) Award.

Music Therapist Accredited, CAMT.