placement reflection: 09/16/16

as you may or may not know, i am FINALLY a music therapy student (whoot!).

and as part of our curriculum, we have the opportunity to visit locations within the community and actually lead clinical sessions with our clients – with our music therapist supervisor watching over us, of course… because we’re all noobs so far. as of right now, i have observed and assisted in one session. every week, we have to write a reflection (learning and personal) regarding our experiences at our session.

as a way to promote the field as well as to help people understand what really goes on in a music therapy session, i have decided to share my reflections with readers of my blog.

confidentiality (ethics!) is EXTREMELY serious and important, and therefore i will not disclose where i work, who i work with, the identity of my clients, nor behaviours that were observed. this will strictly be my own experiences.

i sincerely hope you get something out of this, and please, enjoy!

Oddly enough, I was not that nervous going in to the room and actually starting my first day of training as a music therapist. Meeting the clients during the orientation day really helped, as I was able to prepare myself intellectually and behaviourally, through some research. It was only the first day of the placement, but I had already learned a lot, specifically how to form a therapeutic relationship and the technique of redirection.

One thing that my supervisor pointed out was to never approach the clients from behind. Also, to engage with them in a comfortable way in order to start forming a bond (therapeutic relationship) with them. Learning of a client’s personal boundaries is also very important, and comes with experience working with them.

In terms of redirection, I learned to acknowledge a client’s “negative” behaviours or responses so they know they are being heard and understood, but redirect this negative energy into something more positive, or a more positive outlet to release their negative emotions. The music therapist must be very flexible in sessions as unexpected things do happen. I also learned that when something unexpected yet positive occurs, to go with it and let them express this positive energy rather than hinder them in order to stick with the agenda.

As I stated earlier, I did not feel that nervous going in to the classroom because we had already met the clients prior to the session.

In this session, I had many moments of amazement. I thought that the music the clients made on the xylophone was beautiful and prompted me to think that sometimes as Classically-trained musicians, we strive too hard for perfection rather than enjoying the simplicity of music.

There was one instance where my heart filled with joy, when I was able to connect with the clients and they, to me. And also when I witnessed how much the clients enjoy the music, and how music is able to change lives in small ways. The fact that I was actually going into the field for real now (even if it is just the very beginning of my training) felt incredible yet surreal, like I’m finally doing what I had been preparing and wanting to do since the end of high school.

For the most part, I felt quite comfortable with the clients. I did however start out giving the instruments to them from behind because for some reason, I thought that they would not react well to a stranger in their face. I learned later that this is not a good thing to do. Also, at some points during the session, I did not know what my role was when my partner was acting as the co-therapist, so I felt a little out of place and somewhat awkward.

Unlike my partner, my supervisor didn’t do anything this session that pushed my comfort zone – the singing I felt completely fine with (though I hope to learn how to project more in the future), as well as the interaction with the clients. It was a very valuable first experience.