Leah Sawtelle’s love for music began as a four-year-old sitting at her parents’ piano plunking out the melodies to theme songs from her favorite movies and television shoes. This love for music extended throughout her early, middle-school, and high school education. Her journey to becoming a board-certified music therapist began when she was able to shadow a music therapist for a career day as a junior in high school. She went on to receive a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Music Therapy from Augsburg University, completing her six-month clinical internship with Allina Hospice, where she served patients in the Greater St. Paul/Minneapolis area.
During her time at Allina, Leah was given the opportunity to experience what it is like to work as a full-time music therapist on a team of other professionals including doctors, nurses, physical therapists, massage therapists, chaplains, and bereavement counselors. She had the privilege of making meaningful connections with hospice patients and their families, educating community members about music therapy, and completing a case study on a patient with MSA (Multiple System Atrophy). Sessions with this patient involved utilizing Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) techniques such as Vocal Intonation Therapy (VIT) and Therapeutic Singing (TS) as well as addressing spiritual and emotional needs, helping the patient come to peace with her diagnosis and decline.
Leah has enjoyed working as an independent contracted professional in hospice care for several months upon completion of her internship and passing of the board certification exam. She looks forward to utilizing that experience in order to provide quality care, meaningful connections and quality of life to the groups and individuals served by the Living Spirit Therapy team.