The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Board-Certified Music Therapist, Kat Fulton
Originally from Atlanta, Ga., the now San Diego, Calif.-based Kat Fulton (MM, MT-BC, NICU MT) is a speaker, business owner and board-certified music therapist whose passion is achieving therapeutic goals through making music.
With a Master’s degree in Music Therapy from Florida State University, Fulton holds high standards for scientific research and maintains a practice infused with the latest evidence-based techniques and strategies. She completed her clinical training for music therapy at Musicworx of California, a music therapy contracting and consulting agency located in Del Mar, Calif.
Fulton established Sound Health Music in 2005, a San Diego-based organization that encourages, enables, and empowers people to develop potential through research-based music experiences. The Sound Health Music team of board-certified music therapists design interventions that use music as the vehicle for positive change within corporate, wellness, medical, and enrichment settings.
When she’s not healing patients through music, you can find Fulton doing Bikram yoga, playing volleyball, or maybe even facilitating drum circles with the US Surgeon General (true story!).
To learn more about music therapy and Fulton’s business, visit www.katfulton.com.
WiMN: What is the name of your company?
KF: Sound Health Music, and we have three divisions: private practice in San Diego, continuing education at MusicTherapyEd.com, and then my personal coaching plus consulting at KatFulton.com
WiMN: Describe that “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to devote your life to music.
KF: Sitting at a piano in undergrad, feeling the vibrations of the strings, realizing that my life is rhythm – breathing, walking, thinking, the seasons of life… Then I decided to accept the music scholarship and walk away from the chemistry major. I just followed my heart… beat… =)
WiMN: How does someone become a music therapist?
KF: (1) Sign up for a degree program at one of the 75 accredited colleges or universities that offer the bachelors, masters, or PhD, (2) Complete the degree and attend an approved internship for 1200+ hours, then (3) Sit for the board certification examination upon successful completion of the internship. Our board certification is regulated by the Certification Board of Music Therapists (CBMT.org).
WiMN: What can one expect as a music therapy patient?
KF: This depends on who you are – Alzheimers patients can often expect to feel less agitation, more socialization and bonding, more meaningful moments with family members. Psychiatric patients can often expect to have a positive outlet for creative expression. Autism clients can often expect remediation of speech skills, sensory integration, enhanced auditory processing and motor skills. Oncology patients can often expect enhanced quality of life, outlet for creative expression…
WiMN: What is it about music therapy that attracted you?
KF: At the time I chose to pursue graduate studies in music therapy, I was enrolled in a master degree program that had me practicing piano 10 hours per day. I decided that me, a piano, and four walls for 10 hours per day was a recipe for loneliness. So, in 2002, I googled “careers in music.” Music therapy popped up, and I thought “My parents would *never* approve of this! I’m doing it!” It all turned out for the best, and my parents and I have never gotten along better!
WiMN: What are some of the best music therapy programs in the country/world?
KF: There are SO MANY wonderful programs out there! I’m biased, but I love my alma mater Florida State University. They conduct ground-breaking studies with premature infants – a fragile AND fascinating population. Each program has a basis within a particular psychological approach: behavioral, cognitive, neurologic, psychodynamic, developmental… A potential student should definitely do the research on psychological approaches first, prior to choosing a program.
WiMN: Once someone becomes a music therapist, where can they work?
KF: Medical hospitals, behavioral health communities, schools that serve special needs populations, wellness centers, integrative health centers, private practice agencies, summer camps, the list goes on and on!
WiMN: Have you encountered skeptical people who question the powerful healing abilities of music? If so, how do you respond?
KF: Yes! I don’t spend much time beating my head against the wall with people who devalue my contributions to the world. There are so. many. people. who love our work, and understand it, and can relate to it. But when I do encounter skeptics, I spoon-feed little bits of research. There is so much evidence-based research in music therapy, across so many different populations. I try to meet my audiences where there are, so that I can speak a language, and tell stories to which they can relate.
WiMN: Tell us about one of your biggest success stories with a patient.
KF: Betty! Betty joined our drumming group at an older adult wellness group. At the beginning of the session, she said with a sad tone, “Well, I just suffered a stroke and I can hardly move like a used to. It’s very disheartening.” By the end of the session, she unveiled her hidden tap-dancing talent, and had us all dancing and drumming to her favorite beat! She was *teaching* us her best moves. After the session, she said “Wow – I feel 100% better after that!”
WiMN: You’re also a speaker and coach. What areas do you speak and coach on?
KF: Almost all of my coaching clients are therapy business owners. I built my private practice from zero to full-time and thriving, and I love empowering others to do the same in their communities. I teach therapists that their therapeutic skills make them better at running a business.
For speaking, my center around my belief that creative arts therapists are leaders in healthcare. Some examples include Southern California Association for Neonatal Nursing, Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma, Americans for the Arts. I also speak at music therapy conferences – the American Music Therapy Association and its regions, the Online Conference for Music Therapy
WiMN: How many instruments do you play, and which ones?
KF: I play the piano, the guitar, and I sing. Then I dabble in the hand drums. Every music therapist is required to be proficient in piano, guitar, and voice! But I really love playing pots, pans, spoons, and pencils =).
WiMN: What are some great websites/resources for people interested in learning more about music therapy?