Meet Our Music Therapists: Introducing Stephen Tok
My journey toward becoming a music therapist in mental health began with my work as a music educator among youth from disadvantaged and refugee communities. While I saw firsthand how music and other creative modalities were able to nurture hope and resilience, I also realized how ill-equipped I was to fully support these individuals without proper mental health training. With newfound purpose, I returned to school to be trained in music-centered psychotherapy to learn to integrate my knowledge of music with my desire to use it for mental health and well-being.
As a Registered Psychotherapist and Certified Music Therapist in the Mental Health and Addictions Program at Grand River Hospital, my role is to contribute to patients’ holistic care by nurturing healthier ways of thinking, feeling and being through music and conversation. I currently support patients in the Adult Inpatient Mental Health and Adult Specialized Mental Health units at the KW and Freeport Campuses as well as the new 9A Child and Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatry (CAIP) unit. I am also a Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery, certified in its specialized Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) method of music-centered psychotherapy.
Music expresses what cannot be articulated, and hence, it has the capacity to reach parts of the psyche that words sometimes cannot—it also has a curious and instantaneous ability to connect with or express complex emotions, uncover thoughts that are usually kept hidden, and redirect the mind from spiraling in distress. In therapy, this can translate to helping patients express things that have been bottled up, gaining therapeutic insight, and becoming mindful of positive things in the present. It is truly inspiring to witness people discover strengths they never knew they had, to see themselves in a more positive light, and to overcome their traumas through meaningful music experiences.
But what do I REALLY love about music therapy? It is the fact that music speaks to the soul, allowing people to experience meaningful, transcendent, and even spiritual moments that are often indescribable yet life changing. It can bring joy, laughter, peace, and all that is positive, but it also makes space for tears, uncertainty, and frustration, supporting the entire human experience at a holistic level. For me, this is very much part of person-centred care.
– Stephen Tok
MMus, MMT, RP, MTA, FAMI
Adult Inpatient Mental Health (1F), CAIP, Specialized Mental Health