Marilyn Sydlo Guadagnino ’87, ’88 chose Shenandoah University because of its location and professor-to-student ratio, as well as its existence as a music conservatory and college. “It’s a warm, friendly place that cares,” said Guadagnino. “Faculty treated students as equals. There was not a sense of hierarchy.” Some of Guadagnino’s fondest memories were walking the campus grounds, spending time with friends, enjoying the 24/7 availability of ice cream in the dining hall and her senior flute recital, which was a highlight of her Shenandoah experience.
Since 1991, Guadagnino has been a full-time primary therapist for the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry at their outpatient community health clinic in Rochester, New York. She provides individual psychotherapy, leads music therapy groups and mentors music therapy students through practicum and internships. Guadagnino also developed a mental health peer specialist program, where she trains and supervises a team of 20 peers who provide individual and group therapy for the entire clinic, serving 1,500 mentally ill patients.
In 2011, Guadagnino and her husband, Lou, co-founded Living Stress Free. Their company is dedicated to helping people reduce their stress and live healthier, happier lives. She offers classes, workshops, retreats, online courses and individual services to clients experiencing stress overload. “Using my interest in Eastern meditation practices, I created a unique technique, LSF Nada Meditation, to help people experience mindfulness meditation using music and sound, recording ‘Quiet Cloud’ and ‘Breath as Mind – Mind as Breath,’ to instruct listeners on this innovative technique,” said Guadagnino. She started her private therapy and counseling practice in 2013, combining traditional psychotherapy with life coaching, music-sound therapy and mindfulness training.
Some of Guadagnino’s most rewarding experiences in her career are sustaining music therapy services at her mental health clinic for nearly 28 years, despite constant changes and funding difficulties, and creating her own company with her husband with the sole purpose of helping people lower their stress, balance their lives and reach their goals. She was especially excited to publish her new self-help book, “The Living Stress Free Bible: Twenty Techniques to Make Your Life Less Stressful,” in 2018.
“The music therapy program at Shenandoah helped me enhance my creativity and ability to be an out-of-the-box thinker through all of life’s endeavors,” said Guadagnino. “The support and attention to building confidence that the school philosophy imbibed helped me carve my way to a long-standing career with the ability to thrive as an entrepreneur.”
Guadagnino’s advice to students is: “Find a way to practice music therapy the way it feels right to you. Don’t just conform to what everyone else does. Be innovative, genuine, and confident. Always be yourself.”