Life As a Music Therapy Intern: Pandemic Edition
Throughout the pandemic, it is safe to say we have all done a bit of adjusting! We’ve experienced changes and transitions, growth and setbacks, and maybe even tried new hobbies. Over the past year, I personally embarked on an adventure that encompassed each of those experiences listed above… My first music therapy internship! I’m here to give you an inside look on my time as an intern at Dynamic Lynks and my experience as a music therapy intern during a global pandemic. (A sentence I never imagined typing!)
Finding the Right Internship
In January of 2020, I began searching for my first field training experience in music therapy. After reviewing the many requirements, filling out applications, emailing back and forth with my advisor, contacting music therapy sites... I took a sign of relief and a leap of excitement. I had found a placement site at Dynamic Lynks Music Therapy in Oak Park, IL! Fast forward to March of 2020, the country is shutting down, we begin to brace ourselves for staying home, and I get the feeling that I may begin my first internship through telehealth.
Little did I know, much of my first internship would be spent on Zoom and I would conquer my fear of troubleshooting on the computer. I won’t say I am tech savvy just yet, but I have leveled up my “tech-knowledge” significantly with the help of my supervisors! Just as I began to panic, I was met with total support, positivity, and a “we are going to get through this” mentality from the team at Dynamic Lynks.
My Internship Experience
Interning at Dynamic Lynks has been an empowering experience, as I have learned from and been supported by two dedicated and skilled music therapists who view neurodiversity, equity, and intersectionality as key components to their practice. My time at Dynamic Lynks in my first internship experience has taught me the importance of connection to the community that a music therapy practice is rooted in. It has been valuable to witness the relationships with not only therapists and clients, but with the client families. If you are looking for a place to learn and grow under clinicians who are rooting for your success, look no further!
Zooming In on Telehealth
A few key things that have gotten me through virtual music therapy sessions are:
Create a Comfortable Space - Stack that computer up on some books (take care of your neck & spine). Rearrange your space, if possible. Throw pillows and blankets are always your friend, so make your sitting space comfortable.
Utilize Breaks - Take some time to actually step away from your screen between sessions to reset, get some water, stretch, move, or walk around! Your body will thank you later.
Explore Tips & Tricks of Virtual Learning - There are so many resources on the internet that can be incorporated into the therapy sessions! Pinterest is your friend, as well as sites like Canva, Wheel of Names, Boom Learning, and of course Youtube!
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel - Use what you have and what you find! Always remember that it is very important that we are using resources ethically (whether free or paid) and crediting those creators in our sessions. This is also a great opportunity to share resources with others and lean on supervisors or other MT’s for resources and session planning.
Make Time for Your Own Music Making and Hobbies - Make sure you are giving yourself space to participate in an activity that you love. Self-care is a verb! Self-care looks different for everyone and may change depending on your schedule, workload, or just the type of day you are having. I have found it very important to step away from my therapy brain and offer myself time for recreation.
Lean on Your Team - Ask questions, speak your ideas into space, and offer your authentic perspective. Your team is there for you and your thoughts and questions matter!
Roll With The Punches - Practice your virtual transitions and programs before presenting them in the session to bypass any malfunctions, but also keep in mind that sometimes, these are things we can’t always control! Be mindful of client’s accessibility to technology, their sensitivity, and the use of teletherapy, and create your session based on their needs.
Stay in The Moment - Don’t brush past what the client might need in the moment just to complete your session plan. Don’t worry! You’ll get to it next time. Staying in the moment allows us to focus on the client and to not miss out on the importance of what they are feeling or communicating to us.
Be Kind to Yourself - Most of us are pandemicing for the first time. Even though you are a therapist, you aren’t meant to be an expert on solving the unknown, and that’s okay! Consider this a friendly reminder that you’ve made it this far, and you are more than capable.
If you are a student intern like me, I wish you well on your music therapy journey and hope that my experience could offer you something to take with you on your way to your next learning experience, and future career. Always remember that we are all in this together and need each other to make the music therapy world go round.
In the words of the great Alicia Keys,
“Good job, good job. You’re doing a good job. Don’t get too down, the world needs you around. Know that you matter, matter, matter.”