Meet the music therapist

Joanna (Jo) Swift Culligan, MA, MT-BC


Jo & a volunteer pup, Ladybug

Founder and Music Therapist

Jo is a board-certified music therapist who received her Master’s degree in music therapy from Drexel University in Philadelphia in 2011. She completed her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech where she received a Bachelor’s of Art degree in Music Technology and a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Marketing Management.

She completed her clinical internship at Hahnemann University Hospital in the Psychiatric Medical Care Unit and also has experience working in residential treatment facilities for adolescents.

Specializing in the use of music therapy with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, she has developed researched based techniques that are designed to enhance the caregiver/care-partner relationship. She has experience working with a wide range of older adults in various care settings including: private homes, independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, long-term care, memory care and hospice. She has worked almost exclusively with older adults using music to enhance communication since receiving her Master’s degree.

When she isn’t working, Jo enjoys spending time outside with her family and friends, hiking, camping and cheering on the Hokies.

Jo is also a faculty member at Virginia Tech in the Human Development and Family Science Department and is the Therapeutic Program Manager at Virginia Tech Adult Day Services.

In the example below, I worked with a woman who had dementia, generalized anxiety and experienced a lot of distress when sundowning. We developed a musical trigger together to help reduce her anxiety that acted as a balm. Through regular application, we were able to work through the anxiety to help her remain engaged and experience less distress.


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