Music Therapy Internship - A Reflection
Updated: Jul 15
Before entering my music therapy internship I had no idea how much I was going to learn about myself, and how that was equally as important as knowing the chord I was playing or which intervention I would do next.
Rewinding a bit to August 2019, I was weeks away from my music therapy internship in a city I’ve only ever passed through with next to no one that I knew. As it came closer I started to feel like this was not the right path for me, not because of fear of the unknown, but an internal feeling. You know, that little voice in your head. And so, I trusted my gut–a tool I would learn to be very important in my internship– and moved back home to New Brunswick.
I came home with no plan other than to find a way to do my internship and pursue this career. Now things in life aren’t usually this easy, but I put my hopes out into the universe and it wasn’t long before I started my internship under Arpeggio Music Therapy with my supervisor Sarah Bell.
If there is one thing I remember my professors saying during my time at Acadia University when giving advice about choosing an internship it was to “decide based on the supervisor.” They stressed this point, suggesting we not pick an internship purely based on population or on location but because of the supervisor. At the time I didn’t understand just how important that would prove to be, but I do now. I worked with populations I never pictured myself in, and ended up loving them.
It makes the internship experience much less intimidating when you have someone on your side guiding you, asking you the questions that make you think and supporting you through that process.
I’ve been able to take more risks and not fear making mistakes knowing there is someone I trust that I can turn to.
Now, did I think I would be trying to finish up my internship during a global pandemic? Of course not! But sometimes we have to go with the flow, in other words we have to learn to be flexible. I’m not talking about doing the splits tomorrow or putting your legs behind your head, because I don’t see that in my future. However, I’ve learned that being open to change and flexibility is a valuable tool as a music therapist. How many times does a session actually go as planned? In my experience, it has been very few, and in those moments I have learned the most because I can reflect and grow from them.
Another reason flexibility is such a valuable skill is because there are simply some things you can never prepare for. Even after a 4 year degree and 4 practicums later, nothing prepared me for the first time a client cries in front of you during a session, or the first time a client passes away, or the first time you and a client share a moment of laughter together. I’ve found those unknown moments to be some of the most challenging, and beautiful. My clients have given me just as much as I hope I’ve been able to give them.
I spent a lot of time focusing on where I needed to be, instead of where I was, thinking that was benefiting me.
But in reality, if you show up open and ready to learn, there are no limits to the amount of wisdom and internal growth both the internship process and people you meet will give you.
To all my fellow interns and interns to-be, 1000 hours may seem like a lot, but it goes by quickly.
If I could share 5 pieces of advice I’ve found helpful:
● Be kind and patient with yourself (things won’t always go as planned)
● Don’t be afraid to rely on your support network and community
● Consider everything as a learning opportunity
● Find your own groove, personal approach and routine
● Yes we’re still learning, but we always will be, so trust and have faith in yourself
All in all, try new things and do the things that scare you because there is so much space to grow in this beautiful field.