About Kim McMillin


RN, MA, MT-BC, RPT, LMHC, LMFT (CO)
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (CO); serving the Spokane and Spokane Valley area.
Board Certified Music Therapist

Music therapy for me is a journey of transformation: body mind and spirit

What if music was not only your way out of the darkness… but was the best way for you to learn to thrive? What if music was your primary language and your primary vehicle for learning how to move, listen, walk, speak, communicate, create social skills, feel, organize your mind and heart?

How do I know about the power of music as a transformational tool?

Music was my survival tool. I grew up in a small town in Arizona. My family was not able to give me private lessons. By the time I was in high school I had taught myself to play the piano, the oboe, the flute, the guitar and the alto sax. I was in all of the choirs, the orchestra and the marching band. In addition, I played oboe in the local community college orchestra and performed with them regularly.

A scholarship in music at a community college opened doors for me. I took singing lessons and had my first piano lesson. I began to write music and record my songs informally. I began to listen to all kinds of music and travel. my process of healing gave me the tools I needed to find my voice in a chaotic unpredictable world. Hence, I coined the phrase, “Music speaks where words fail.”

MUSIC THERAPY: TOOL FOR TRANSFORMATION AND INTEGRATION

While I was getting my nursing degree at the University of Arizona I would visit my mom who worked as a Special Education aide in my high school.   One day, while hanging out in her classroom, I met a music therapist, Kelly, who was working with some of the kids there. She allowed me to ‘shadow’ her for the next 2 days while she worked in my community.

I knew about music therapy only by reading about it. I had always wanted to be a music therapist, but told myself that it was impractical and that I wouldn’t be able to make a living at it, so I gave up. Seems God had another plan.

While I was with Kelly, I saw the transforming magic of music in the eyes of the children, adults and parents she was working with. These kids were not supposed to be alive. If you looked at their medical history they were supposed to be dead. Many of them had had PT, ST & OT. Many of them had made progress in therapy, but had been discharged because progress had stopped or slowed.

When music was sung or played, ‘Crack’ babies, kids with severe Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, etc, came alive, moved, began to speak and looked me in the eye. Someone was home, alive and ready to engage with life through music. I saw that music could help them integrate all they had learned in previous therapy experiences and ‘play’ and have fun doing it!

Here was this music therapist in the town where I grew up, doing the very thing I wanted to do! I no longer had any excuses left about why I couldn’t be a music therapist!

PASSION FOR HEALING: MUSIC AND MEDICINE

My experience as a nurse was a journey of transformation and discovery. I worked in physical rehab with adults and kids who had spinal cord injuries, strokes and head injuries. I worked at Denver children’s Hospital in physical rehabilitation. I became a pediatric home care RN. My job was to care for kids and adults with respirators, ventilators and severe medical issues.

I watched families and clients find their way through their pain and losses. Those who focused on ‘I can’ and used their spiritual resources seemed to thrive in the face of overwhelming odds. Kids particularly were good at finding JOY in the face of what others defined as ‘defeat’. Many kids spent the long hours in rehab listening to music and singing.

The kids at The Children’s Hospital taught me about body, mind and spirit. They taught me to be passionate about helping others to find the goodness within them and to heal the barriers that prevented them from embracing the Light of Goodness inside… through music, play, science and medicine…. one heart at a time.

MUSIC CHANGES YOUR BRAIN

After I graduated from nursing school, I worked in a locked Alzheimer unit in a nursing home. As a charge nurse I had the privilege of helping the residents get to bed at night. Often, as the sun set, the residents confusion would increase significantly. To help them, I would ‘sing’ them through each step of their bedtime routine. They couldn’t remember their name or mine, yet they were able to sing ‘Old Bill Bailey’ with all of the words. I would look at them, sing their name using melodies they remembered and put new words to it!

As I sang, music helped them organize their brain, decreased their anxiety and confusion around an activity that would normally be very stressful for them.

Music actually changes the chemistry of the brain! Music can be used to increase daily functioning. Music is a right brain activity (music making) that can be used to compensate for lack of left brain functioning (ability to sequence, speech et.al.). I learned that there is a ST?MT intervention called melodic intonation where the therapist will use a singing voice to teach stroke victims who have lost the ability to speak. instead of speaking what they need, they sing instead.

HEALING FROM THE INSIDE OUT—THROUGH MUSIC

I learned about music therapy by working with my own pain, by finding my way through closets filled with family skeletons… I wrote songs, vocalized, improvised on piano, guitar, drums, & flute.

When I finished my education, I worked with dually diagnosed adults… folks that had both developmental disability and a severe mental illness.

Additional Training:

  • Nordoff-Robbins Creative music therapy training, New York City 1999-present
  • Guided Imagery and Music training- Level I
  • Suzuki training- Piano and flute
  • Vocal improvisation as therapy- Diane Austin, PhD

Kim McMillin

RN, MA, MT-BC, RPT, LMHC, LMFT (CO)
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Music Therapist
I am passionate about helping others to find the goodness within them and to heal the barriers that prevent them from embracing the Light of Goodness inside. Each of us comes into this world as a magnificent Sun. What often trips us up is that we learn to identify with the clouds -- ugly things...

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1717 W. 6th Ave
Suite #4
Spokane, WA 99204

Music therapy for autism and developmental disabilities serving the Spokane, WA area.
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Whether you are an advocate for someone with developmental disabilities, you are stuck in your life and need a new approach to personal growth, or you want to heal from health issues and enhance your well-being, the resources on this website can help.  Check out our videos, get our newsletter, and then call our office at 509-979-4357 to discuss your unique situation.
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"Kim combines her talents and years of experience with patience, empathy and cheerfulness. We highly recommend her as a therapist."
- Family with a Developmentally Disabled Son - Boulder, Colorado
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