This week I am reflecting on self-care. We talk about self-care a lot in the music therapy field. I’ve known that self-care is important, but now I am really learning just how important it is.
Lots of things are new and different when you start your internship. For me, I moved to a different area, I hardly knew anyone, and this is my first full-time “job.”
The first month of internship also brought me new challenges, new environments, and new clients. Not to mention, most MT interns get more experience in their first two weeks of internship than in all four years of college combined! All of this can add up to be a lot of stress!
To help me cope with this stress, I have implemented daily and weekly self-care. Let me tell you, doing things for yourself on a regular basis really helps you combat the stress of the week.
Everyone’s self-care looks different, but I thought I would share with you what new self-care practices I have added to my everyday life!
Things I Do On a Daily Basis:
Make My Bed: I never did this growing up, and I’m sure my mom wasn’t happy about it (sorry Mom!), but, since starting my internship, I have been making my bed every morning when I wake up. It is a great feeling to curl up in a made bed every night.
Essential Oil Diffuser: I have this on when I get ready in the morning as well as when I get ready for bed.
Pack Lunch the Night Before: This saves me time in the morning, so I can sleep a few minutes later!
As a part of my internship requirements/assignments, I also need to do an hour of weekly self-care. Preferably, it should be something new! A lot of what I have been doing are things I used to do, but didn’t have time for in college.
Here is what I have done so far:
Crochet: Call me old-fashioned, but I love to crochet! All I know is how to make blankets, but it’s a good activity to keep your body busy and your mind empty.
Read: I used to read for fun all the time, but all I had time to read in college was textbooks. Reading takes me into another world and out of this one for a bit!
Cook: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an awful cook. One night I simply made myself some pasta noodles, and that was good enough for me!
Date Night: I went to the mall in Springfield with my boyfriend. We didn’t even buy anything, but it was nice to simply walk and be with someone I know cares about me. This doesn’t have to be done with a significant other! Just simply spending some time with someone you know cares about you, like a family member or friend, can be so refreshing.
I think that self-care was something that I took for granted before starting my internship, but I’m learning very quickly just how important it is. To paraphrase a common saying: you must first help yourself before you can help others. Remember this and maybe even try a new self-care activity!
What are some of your favorite ways to practice self-care?
It’s hard to believe that I am finishing up my fourth week at MTC! Time has flown by, but it also feels like I’ve been here for longer than that…in a good way!
This week has definitely tested my skills as a future music therapist. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was given the opportunity to fully lead all of my sessions this week (with supervision). When I got to my internship site Monday morning, I had no idea that this was going to happen. This week became another chance for learning that sometimes you have to just “go with the flow.”
We’ve all heard this phrase at least once in our life. Though people may say it jokingly, this phrase can also be completely accurate and needed in the professional world, especially as music therapists.
I am very much a planner. I like to plan out my sessions as well as my everyday life. It took me a long time to be even a little bit comfortable with not planning every detail in a session. This internship is really pushing me to feel okay with “going with the flow” as some of the sites I am at require sessions that are full of improvisation and clients deciding what to do in the sessions.
There is a concise word for “go with the flow”: flexibility. Now, I’m not talking about touching your toes without bending your knees, because I definitely can’t do that. I’m talking about taking things as they come. I’ve learned that flexibility is a valuable skill to have as a future music therapist.
How often does your day go exactly as you pictured? How often does a session go exactly the way you planned? I know my answer to these questions: hardly ever. Though I like to plan as much as I can, something I did not expect always happens and “upsets” the plan.
Session plans are a wonderful tool. They provide structure and a direction for each session. They also are often my “security blanket” during sessions. However, I have to be careful about not overplanning.
Be open to taking the session in a different direction as the session goes on. Be open to following the client’s direction. Be prepared for unexpected things to occur. A session (or your day) can go in a million different directions, you can’t plan everything.
Here are a few things I have learned about being flexible:
Flexibility is often a learned skill.
I definitely have not always been flexible, and am still working on this skill. It takes time and practice.
Flexibility can be difficult.
It can be hard to get away from the session plan. Go with your gut and trust it. It’s often what the client needs.
Sessions often go better when you are flexible.
At least I have found this to be true. When I don’t have time to overthink, the session goes much smoother.
These past four weeks I have been “thrown into” a lot of sessions. Some I knew about a bit beforehand, and some I didn’t. Though it can be scary, I especially encourage students and interns to be willing to “go with the flow.” If you practice it now, it will help you in the future.
I will be continuing to work on improving my flexibility while still being very prepared for my sessions. Hopefully I find a happy middle ground! What are you? Are you a planner? Do you go with the flow? Are you somewhere in the middle? Let me know!
Thanks for reading! Have a fabulous rest of your week!
Special thanks to my sister, Sophie, and my cousin, Jennifer, for helping me out with this week’s blog pic! :)
Hi everyone! My name is Molly Robitaille and I am so excited to join the wonderful team here at Music Therapy Connections as a new music therapist. For this post, I wanted to share a little about myself.
I am fresh out of college and my music therapy internship. I attended Molloy College on Long Island, New York and completed my music therapy internship during senior year in a local school district.
I just moved to Springfield from Connecticut! Although I went to college in New York, I grew up in Northwest Connecticut. This was a big change for me, but I am very excited to be doing what I love and surrounded by such awesome people.
I am primarily an oboist, though I also play the piano, guitar, saxophone, and ukulele in addition to singing.
I am thrilled to be here! This job is a dream come true for me, and I am so excited to help my students and clients reach their full potential through the power of music.
Thanks for taking the time to get to know a little bit about me! I look forward to contributing to the MTC blog more in the future, as well as getting to know all of the families that MTC serves.
This week has been a challenging one for me. I am leading sessions more and more, getting to know clients, learning repertoire, and writing songs, and it can be a little overwhelming at times.
However, I am learning so much through these experiences. I am seeing areas where I am growing, and areas that still need a lot of work. It is good to know these qualities about myself, but, unfortunately, I tend to focus on the “negatives.”
The people close to me, as I do, consider me a “perfectionist.” Everything needs to be absolutely perfect. I tell myself that the music in sessions needs to be perfect, the songs I am writing need to be perfect, my social skills need to be perfect, I need to get an A on everything, etc. I am quickly learning that these thoughts are not actually helping me. In fact, these “perfectionist” tendencies are holding me back.
I have come to the realization that I keep focusing on where I need to be, instead of where I am at now. I thought that this was benefiting me, but in reality, it is not. I am not a professional yet. I don’t have to have all the answers (and never will, even when I am one of the professionals). I am still a student. I am still learning, and will continue to learn for the rest of my life. I need to take one day at a time and focus on the growth I am making day to day.
“Perfect is a nasty word.”
This is something one of my supervisors, Alisabeth, told me this week. She said that this is not a word we should say to our clients, and definitely not to ourselves. This puts a false expectation in our heads. In therapy, we should not strive for perfection, but improvement.
“You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be effective.”
This is another thing I was told this week, and it has really stuck with me the past couple of days. A client isn’t going to care if you play the wrong chord or mix the words up. What matters is how you handle yourself when these things occur (because they will) and continuing to be effective in the therapeutic process.
As I am sitting here writing this blog, I have been contemplating these questions. Here are some questions for thought:
What is “perfection”?
Who decides what “perfection” is?
Is “perfection” even achievable?
I know I am not the only one who struggles with perfectionism. This seems to occur in many music therapists as well as musicians in general, and likely every career imaginable. I am starting my journey in getting over this mindset. In a later blog, I hope to update you all on how I am getting over my “perfectionism.” In the meantime, I would love to hear from those of you who are also “perfectionists” and what has helped you get past this mindset!