Alpha Woodward

Assistant Professor of Music Therapy/Dir. of Music Therapy

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More about Alpha Woodward

Dr. Alpha Woodward, MTA, BMT, MMT, FAMI, PhD

Dr. Alpha Woodward is a Music Therapist Accredited (MTA) through the Canadian Association of Music Therapy (CAMT) and has both a baccalaureate and a graduate degree in music therapy. She completed her BMT in 1994 and her Advanced MMT in 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her PhD (2015) at Antioch University, Yellow Springs, Ohio explored leadership and change theories in transcultural experiences. Social justice and advocacy for the less privileged or for those who are most vulnerable in society are at the heart of Antiochian tradition, and this is a strong theme in Dr. Woodward’s scholarship and teaching. As the Director and senior music therapist of the humanitarian music therapy project at the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), for almost 4 years, she was a first-hand witness to the complex issues facing both those who are recovering from the brutal realities of an interethnic war, but also those that face humanitarians who are there to help.

Clinical Career Path and Leadership
Her clinical career began in 1992 as a private contract music therapist for the (then) St. Vincent’s Hospitals in Vancouver, B.C. – a cluster of 4 major residential facilities for long term care residents. By 1995 she was offered the first full time music therapy position in the organization, which by then had grown to include acute care hospitals. As the organization developed even further into multi-level, triage system of care across the city Dr. Woodward advocated for professional autonomy and became the first professional practice care leader for music therapy throughout the organization and represented music therapy at the Professional Practice Leadership Council of Care in the new organizational structure, Providence Health Care.

In 1998, while working as a full time music therapist, she completed her MMT – and her identification as an ecological music therapist. In 2004, she accepted a temporary position in the humanitarian development sector and moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina as the senior music therapist and team leader for the Music Therapy Dept at the Pavarotti Music Centre (PMC) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 2004 – 2007 her strategic community development helped the team though many transitions and funding/donor issues. What stayed with her from this period was the importance of music in helping individuals, groups, schools, care agencies, orphanages, and institutions deal with complex PTSD, and the witnessing of how the arts in general – and music in particular – are critical in helping a culture and its constituents remember its identity.

Beginning in 2004, she was able to save the program from imminent closure by taking it in a strategically different direction as an independent NGO from the PMC with independent access to funding through Warchild (UK). She provided clinical supervision and directional leadership for its clinical outreach to special needs schools, psychiatric units, orphanages and refugee camps in and around the Kanton of Mostar and Sarajevo, BiH. In June 2007 Dr. Woodward was flown back to Vancouver to be honored with the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award from Capilano University, North Vancouver, in recognition for her work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over the course of her career she has presented her ecological research and her work in Bosnia in several national and international conferences (Sweden, Japan, Canada, USA, Buenos Aires, the U.K., Bosnia and Herzegovina) and has published several articles in peer reviewed journals. From 2008 to 2010, Dr. Woodward served on the Alumni Board of Directors at Capilano University and returned to full time clinical practice in 2008 in Vancouver before accepting an interim full time teaching position at Concordia University in 2010 where she taught both advanced and entry level music therapy curriculum in the Creative Arts Therapy Department. In 2013 – while immersed in a writing retreat for her PhD – she was invited by the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance in Limerick, Ireland, to fill in as the acting Course Director for the MA in Music Therapy in the middle of their academic year. The opportunity to serve put the PhD dissertation on hold and over the next 2 ½ years she stabilized the program, increased the number of students enrolling in the program and developed positive community ties to partners, institutions, professional music therapists in Ireland and laid the groundwork for membership in the European Confederation of Music Therapists. Following this important period of growth in teaching and management, Dr. Woodward moved to Scranton Pennsylvania where she held the position of Interim Director of Music Therapy at Marywood University (2016-2017). This was a year of learning about American trainings and the culture of learning.

Dr. Woodward is very excited to be a part of the Wartburg College Faculty – especially because the College ethos and mission in the community is very much aligned with her own values as a humanist, an advocate for social justice, and as a community-engaged music therapist.

Statement of Vision and Values
Dr. Woodward believes students in our training need to be prepared to work in a changing social environment and that music therapy is a ‘calling’ – a mission to use music to work with the most vulnerable in our communities and must not only be musically skilled in working therapeutically with individuals and groups, but also be intuitive, self-aware and willing to grow and develop their own vocation through theory and current research. Because the professional music therapist uses music as a catalyst for change in the therapeutic process with their clients they must provide a safe environment of trust for that to happen over time. To this point, advocacy and ethical practice is integrated into the training. The undergraduate training prepares each student to apply for professional credentials and to practice competently as an entry level professional music therapist. Ultimately, clinical experience and a Master’s Degree in advanced music therapy theory and practice will equip professional clinicians to deepen and develop themselves as reflective practitioners, to practice confidently and creatively within their community of care, and to further the reach and scope of the profession.