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Dena Register

Music Therapy

Dena Register is an Associate Professor of Music Therapy at WVU beginning in fall 2015. Before coming to Morgantown, Dr. Register taught in the music therapy program at the University of Kansas in addition to serving as the Director of Faculty Programs in the Office of International Programs and as a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Teaching Excellence. Her position in the WVU School of Music includes the design and implementation of the music therapy program, beginning with the Bachelors degree in music therapy.


She earned the B.M., M.M., and Ph.D. degrees in music therapy from the Florida State University.  Prior to her teaching career, Register worked as a private practice music therapist in Tallahassee and Tampa, Florida providing services to early intervention programs, students with special education needs, bereaved children and adolescents and battered women and children. She also provided internship supervision and coordinated the music therapy program at Big Bend Hospice in Tallahassee, FL. These clinical experiences provided the foundation for her teaching experiences. Previous courses developed and taught by Dr. Register have included courses in principles of music therapy, human development and music learning, music in early childhood, music therapy in hospice and palliative care, music therapy in bereavement, philosophy and theory of music therapy and current trends in music therapy. She is also the faculty leader of an intensive summer study abroad programs for students in music therapy. Her teaching experiences reflect her love for engaged learning, travel and international perspectives in the field of music therapy.


One of her research interests includes music therapy in early intervention and literacy skill development. Register served as a member of the Topeka C.A.R.E.S. (Creating Access to Reading Excellence Success) Early Reading First grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to provide music therapy services as part of a comprehensive early literacy program. Additional research areas include work with early childhood educators on incorporating music in their classrooms, as well as student and professional development trends in the field. Register is the author of two music for literacy learning resources and has published her research in Music Therapy Perspectives, the Arts in Psychotherapy and the Journal of Music Therapy.


In 2009, Dr. Register was awarded a Council for International Exchange of Scholars Fulbright Scholar grant to teach and conduct research at Mahidol University, Thailand. She developed the “Therapeutic Uses of Music” training to begin building an awareness and appreciation of music therapy as a discipline among medical and education personnel. To date, she has trained more than one hundred professionals, initiated numerous clinical sites and offerings and consulted on research projects across Thailand. She helped developed and launch the first music therapy Masters degree program in Southeast Asia at Mahidol University College of Music in 2013. She continues her work there as a consultant and researcher.


Her consulting work in the U.S. is focused on the recognition of music therapy by state governments and the recognition of the MT-BC credential as the required credential for all practicing professionals. As the Regulatory Affairs Advisor for the Certification Board for Music Therapists, she works with music therapists across the country on obtaining this professional recognition. She delivers training to students and professionals alike on the importance of advocacy for the profession.