What a journey the past 6 months of internship has been! One year ago at this time I had no idea I would be moving to San Diego and building a life here. I had no idea how intense life as an intern would be or how exciting the process of stepping out of the intern shoes and stepping into life as a new professional would be. These past 6 months have taught me patience, confidence, and what it means to be invested in your dream. There have been many lessons I’ve learned throughout internship, and I did my best to summarize my top learnings below.
1. Your therapeutic relationship with the client is most important
While this may seem obvious, it was a valuable lesson I was reminded of through my experience as an intern. So often it’s easy to jump into sessions with clients and get so absorbed in the goals and interventions that you forget that you haven’t yet earned the client’s trust. The therapeutic relationship is really what makes music therapy effective – it is 100% essential to the clients success within therapy. With time, I learned to breathe, be more present, be more aware of the client’s responses/what they are giving me and became comfortable adapting in the moment. I also learned a great deal about building rapport with a wide range of personalities and different individuals. Some clients connect with you through silliness/cutting loose a bit, some through structure, and others simply with time. I learned to get to know my client’s and give the relationship time to grow before expecting them to trust/listen to me.
2. Importance of professionalism and communication with parents/families
My experience in the field so far has taught me the vital importance of professionalism and communication. I value clear and open communication and have come to understand how important this is in the workplace. I have learned to communicate clearly with parents and families and (when possible) always keep them in the loop. Within this lesson, I learned the importance of consistency, timeliness, and honesty/transparency as a measure of communicating respect and professionalism to the families with which you are working.
3. Know your professional values
I have held several jobs in music therapy since beginning my degree. Each has taught me more and more about what I value as a professional. Sometimes the administrative end of music therapy can be equally as important as the therapy itself. Sometimes small, logistical details determine whether you will be happy and well balanced, or overworked and burnt out. I am learning to advocate for myself in these areas as well as cultivate a reputation for myself based on my personal values as a music therapist.
4. Actively build/expand your skill set
There is always room for improvement, or as my mom told me often growing up “Learning is a lifestyle”. I realized throughout internship how easy it is to get into a groove or routine where you’re comfortable, you and your clients know the drill and you rarely feel the need to mix it up. However, mixing it up is where you’re challenged and where you grow! I am inspired to expand my skills (particularly on guitar) as well as my repertoire of music. Because we are in such a unique and fun line of work, it is a joy to get to be creative every day in the way you lead songs, present information, and address goals.
5. Love where you are –> trust the process
The universe kept hitting me hard with this lesson, especially throughout internship, until it started to begin to scratch the surface of making it’s way into my head. Many times we wish we were someplace we’re not – gotta learn to love and accept where we are. Even if I don’t have years of experience (one day I will!) or am not the most knowledgable on certain subjects, I have to remind myself to breathe and accept where I am and be gracious with myself. This proved to be particularly tricky when dealing with families or facilities who also wish you had more experience than you do. All in time, all in time. The difficulties will pass, the knowledge and expertise will come with experience, just trust that you are where you need to be. I am where I need to be.
While reflecting on these lessons, I was drawn to record a piano piece that in a way represents the ebb and flow of internship for me.
Here’s to the future and all that lies ahead!