Intern’s Corner – Week 4

Hello All!
I hope your week has been going well; for me here at MTC it been another week of learning! The last couple weeks I have been considering the importance of finding the value in the small things.

Not Everything has to be Big

I remember before starting my first practicum in college, I imagined that the interventions I was going to do would create a big, almost immediate change in my clients. So much of what we see posted online makes it look like music therapy can do that. In reality, therapy is mainly many small changes that build up to create the difference. I remember after my first practicum experience I felt so defeated when I didn’t create the big change I imagined. Little did I know this was just feeding my perfectionism. 

This way of thinking stayed with me throughout my time in college. I could see that I was making some sort of impact, but I felt like I wasn’t being effective enough. However, when I started observing the music therapists at MTC, I noticed that the client responses were similar to what I had gotten from clients I had worked with in college. I began to consider that maybe I’m not as ineffective as I thought I was.

During the sessions I have been coleading currently, I find myself falling into that trap again. The clients aren’t responding in the ways I imagined; I have to be failing. However, I’m beginning to see it in a different way. The clients are responding to the music, they are answering my questions, following my prompts and emotionally engaging in the music. These aren’t the big immediate changes that I used to imagine, they are smaller impacts that can add up. I’m realizing that if I focus on wanting the big monumental changes, I don’t get the chance to appreciate the small impacts. 

The Impacts are Easier to See when you Change your Focus

During voice seminars in college, after performing my voice teacher would always have us state at least three things we did well during our performance. It was a good way to have us focus on what we did well vs. only thinking about what didn’t go perfectly. I always found this to be difficult, as I view myself with a very critical lens; if I messed up even a little part of the song it practically ruined the experience for me.

One of my supervisors also uses a similar system when we are discussing sessions. Before we start any discussions, she has me tell her what I think I did well. I still have a difficult time answering this; I find myself having trouble coming up with things I did well. Additionally, when I do think I did something well, I find myself questioning if I really did well.

However, I’m beginning to find that in the moment when I focus on what I am doing right and not what I am doing wrong, I feel so much more confident in myself as a therapist and a musician. When I focus less on what I might be doing wrong, I am able to focus more on the clients see the impact on the clients so much clearer then before. I less apprehension and I feel a lot more successful.

Overall, I want to continue focusing more on what I am doing right; that way I can appreciate the small impacts. Thank you for reading!

Lillian

Intern’s Corner – Week 3

Hello everyone! 

It’s crazy to think that I have finished my third week of internship already! Internship has been such an amazing experience and adventure so far; however, it hasn’t been without some challenges. My second week of internship I started facing some anxieties and insecurities. I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. I felt like I shouldn’t be feeling anxious this early; I’ve hardly even started.

I started feeling some imposter syndrome and insecurities about myself as a student music therapist and musician. Additionally, I began feeling a bit alone. I had spent the last four years having peers around me that were in the same stage as me that I could lean on, as an intern I don’t have that anymore. The most frustrating part was that some old nervous habits of mine started resurfacing.

I figured there was two directions I could go in: I could push the feeling down and ignore them or I could face them. I decided to choose the latter. I wanted to face my feelings and work on them now, not leaving them to be a problem for me in the future like I had done so many times before.

Don’t be Afraid to Open Up

From day one my supervisors told me that I could come to them with anything. I contemplated heavily going to them with what I was feeling, but I’m glad I did. They were able to help validate my feelings, and that it was nothing abnormal to feel anxiety at this point of internship. They also shared about their experiences of being an intern and the anxieties they faced. Additionally they were able to share with me self care tips that they use. Overall, it helped me feel a lot less isolated then what I felt prior.

Read a Book

My first day of internship Katey suggested the book You are A Bad*ss, as it was a book that a majority of the staff at MTC had read. My copy of the book came in at the end of my second week, which was good timing. I have never been into motivational/self help books, but I figured I would give it a try. I am part way through the book, and already it has me deeply analyzing my anxieties and fears. It also gave me some ideas of self care strategies I can do. I have now found myself making note of similar books that I want to read after I finish this one. Overall I would highly suggest finding a book to read that resonates with you and your emotional needs.

Seek Further Help if You Need It

This advice came from a conversation about internships I had with a young professional during my senior year of college. Being in a caring profession, it can be easy to fall into extreme stress and anxiety. There is no shame in seeing a psychologist or counselor to work through some of the feelings you are having. Remember that you are still a student, which means that your university’s counseling services are still available, and especially with the pandemic, many universities’ counseling centers are offering telehealth services.

Don’t get me wrong, these are not over night cure. I am still feeling anxious and self conscious at times, but it helps me feel better knowing I’m facing it instead of avoiding it. Take your time and find self care strategies that work for you. If you are a student or new intern, I hope you know that if you are feeling alone and anxious at the beginning of internship, you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that way.

Thank you for reading! I believe in you, and keep having compassion for yourself as you grow.

Lillian

Intern’s Corner – Week 2

(left) Me freshman year as an observer; (right) Me now!

These first two weeks of internship I have stepped into a role that I haven’t been in since I was a freshman in college: an observer. In some ways, it feels weird to be an observer again after leading sessions for the past five semesters in school. However, upon reflection, I have found that there are benefits to being an observer at this point in my education.

The Opportunity to Get Comfortable

I have spent the last four years learning from and getting comfortable with the staff at WIU. This is the first time that I’m leaving my “music therapy” home to work on my skills elsewhere with new mentors. Being an observer again gives me the opportunity to get myself acquainted and comfortable in this new setting. Additionally, it also gives me the space to interact and get acquainted with the music therapists I am working with at MTC before the added pressures of co-leading and leading. I’m still working through some nerves, but I have found the music therapists at MTC to be very supportive as I get acclimated to life as an intern.

The Opportunity to Reflect

Observing the music therapists at MTC work has given me the opportunity to reflect on myself and my current skills as a music therapist in training. I have been able to reflect on how I would react to certain situations and compare that to the reactions of the therapists I am observing. There has also been the opportunity reflect on the areas that I feel comfortable and the areas that I need to work and grow in. I have the opportunity to reflect on my work with similar populations in the past and how I can improve upon my skills going forward. One such population I worked a lot with in college was older adults. The past two weeks I have been able to reflect on that experience and how I can improve while watching sessions at Concordia Senior Services.

The Opportunity to Learn

While I have learned about many different populations and experienced some during my time at WIU, there are some populations that I am experiencing for the first time at MTC. I have read about so many different populations, but I haven’t learned all I can about them. I am a very hands on and visual learner; observing gives me the space to learn about new populations in this way.

Pediatrics is one population that has always been of interest to me that I haven’t been able to experience yet. I have spent six mornings so far at St. John’s Children’s Hospital, which has already expanded my knowledge greatly in that area. It also gives me a new perspective to learn about populations that I have been able to work with during my time in school. Finally, it gives me the opportunity to learn more about the clients and spaces I will soon be working with.

The big difference between being an observer now vs. freshman year is that I am able to look at these experiences through a more educated lens. I am slowly starting to do more co-leading activities with the music therapists at MTC. I look forward to seeing how that compares to my co-leading experiences from my sophomore year of college. 

Thank you for reading and remember to have compassion for yourself as you grow!

Lillian

Intern’s Corner – Week 1

Hello, readers. My name is Lillian Schierbrock, and I am the new intern at Music Therapy Connections!

A Little Bit About Me

I was born and raised in the small town of West Point, IA. I have four older siblings and seven nieces and nephews. Additionally, I have a Tuxedo cat named Wonderful. When I’m not making music, I enjoy crocheting, sewing, watching Hallmark Movies and driving around listening to Taylor Swift songs. 

I recently finished the course work for my bachelors degree in Music Therapy at Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL. During my time at WIU I participated in the Classical Guitar Ensemble, University Singers and the WIU Opera Theatre. I was also a member of the WIU Music Therapy Association, formerly serving as President, and I am currently serving as the Parliamentarian for the Great Lakes Region of the American Music Therapy Association for Students.

My primary instrument was voice and I also play the guitar, ukulele, piano and clarinet. Along with that, I love to collect and to learn a variety instruments. I was also a member of Mu Phi Epsilon, a professional music fraternity. 

During my first week of internship, one of my assignments was to read the AMTA Code of Ethics. The AMTA Code of Ethics is an important resource that serves as a guideline for music therapists on ethical decision making and professional conduct. I‘m glad I took the time to read through the Code of Ethics, as it gave me a lot of food for thought. While reading it, some parts of it stuck out to me as subjects I want to hold onto and work on during my internship.

Have Compassion for Not Only Your Clients, But Yourself As Well

As music therapy is a caring professional, music therapists tend to be caring and compassionate people, especially toward our clients. However, we don’t always extend to ourselves that same compassion. Principle #2: Act with Compassion states: “It is important for music therapists to extend compassion to themselves when confronted with their own human limitations.”

Additionally, Principle #2, Part 2.7 further backs this up “practice self-kindness and mindfulness and extend compassion to self if faced with feelings of inadequacy or failure.” Practicing self kindness and compassion is something that I have struggled with myself. Many times I find that I lack compassion toward myself when I make small mistakes or don’t do something perfectly. During the next six months, I will be working on giving the same compassion that I give to my clients to myself, as well.

Striving for Excellence Does Not Mean Perfection

The first paragraph of Principle #5: Strive for Excellence states “Striving for excellence does not imply perfection, but the ongoing commitment to expand our knowledge and skills in all areas.” This sentence really struck me; as musicians it can be easy to become perfectionists, I know it has made me a bit of one. However, this pursuit of perfection can lead to a lot of anxiety and a lack of self compassion.

I have found myself falling into this trap many times of focusing all my energy into playing a piece perfectly and when I make even the smallest mistakes, I will internally antagonize myself about it. I love this idea of focusing on growth over perfection, and will be working on making that my mind set instead. In the famous words of Hannah Montana: “Nobody’s perfect, I gotta work it, again and again till I get it right.”

All of this is easier said than done. In my first week I have already found myself falling into these traps, but I’m going to keep working at it. My goal for myself this next 6 months is to focus on self compassion and growth over self criticism and perfectionism.

I’m so excited to bring you along on this journey! Have a great week!

Lillian