Six Tips for Surviving Music Therapy Internship

By February 21, 2010Ideas, Inspiration

Are you music therapy intern?  Do you know one? Or, are you preparing for your music therapy internship?  I wrote this post in 2010, but I recently revisited it and realized…it’s still good! Here are 6 steps for surviving this transition.

If you are currently an intern or a new professional, please feel free to add to this in the comments section.  In this way, we can support each other and help prepare the next wave of music therapists.  Thanks!

music therapy internshipTip One:  Take care of yourself

Sleep well, eat well, and be well.  Your new role demands a lot of you, both physically and mentally.  Meet the day to day challenges with a brain that has had proper nutrition and enough sleep! Cats are good at self care, at least in my mind. So try to be like my friend to the right, and get lots of sleep 🙂

Tip Two:  Keep an open mind

Your internship site will function differently than your academic institution.  They might operate within a different therapeutic framework, and they might have different philosophies and approaches.  Keep in mind that these differences are a good thing. As you develop your own personal style, you will have the ability to integrate tools learned in both your internship and academic training.

Keep your focus on what you can learn from each and every situation.  Perhaps you are not working with the population you are really drawn to, or maybe things are not going quite as you expected.  Remember that there are therapeutic fundamentals that are applicable to every population, and by working on those, you are preparing yourself for success in other areas.

Tip Three:  Take Risks

When you are in a new environment, it is natural to want to stick to what you know.  One wants to avoid the possibility of failure, and therefore may limit him or herself to using the interventions that are comfortable to that particular therapist.  However, internship is the prime opportunity to step outside of the box (pardon the cliché).  Challenge yourself musically and creatively to see what you can accomplish through music.

If your goals are met, fantastic!  And if not, you can process the session with your clinical supervisor or other members of your professional support system.  Push yourself as an intern so you will have confidence in designing creative interventions as a professional.

Tip Four:  Find Your Own Personal Style

We are all different people, and we are all different therapists.  For us to be most effective, we must be ourselves.  The therapeutic relationship is a key component in our work, and clients appreciate genuineness.  Use your personality to your advantage and develop your own style.

Tip Five:  Rely on Your Support Network

As therapists, we often deal with emotionally tough situations.  Sources of stress might include financial struggles, project deadlines, difficult sessions, and even medical complications or deaths of clients.  When these tough situations occur, you need to have someone to talk to.  Journaling is also a good method of processing and reflecting on your feelings about emotionally straining events.

music therapy internshipStep Six:  Enjoy the Learning

When you are an intern, you are ALMOST THERE!  You are probably six or fewer months away from being eligible for the boards.  The day to day stuff can get tedious, but keep your eyes on the big picture.  Can you see that MT-BC credential dangling just beyond the horizon?  Go after it with vigor and excitement, and enjoy all the learning along the way!

Did you enjoy this article? If so, forward it on to your friend, classmate, or colleague who also might enjoy it. And don’t forget to subscribe to the free newsletter for updates and lessons!

Join the conversation! Please share comments and additional tips for music therapy interns!

Take Care,

matt logan