Journey of a Telehealth Music Therapy Intern
Becoming a board-certified music therapist is a long journey - from bright-eyed student to emerging new professional. After completing all of the university coursework required by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), the last step before taking the board exam is completing a six-month full time clinical internship. The internship allows us to transition from student life to a career as a music therapist and get a taste of what it’s like to be a professional! The intern may move to a new city for six months, living and working alongside their new colleagues every day in the facility or setting where their internship is taking place. However, this is less ideal in the middle of a global pandemic!
My name is Marisa DiCamillo, Harmonic Changes’ current intern, and I am currently slightly over halfway through completing my internship. Because of COVID-19, I have completed my entire internship via Telehealth. This is still quite unusual, but I have met several other interns who have had Telehealth components to their internships during this time, as well. It has been very nice to be able to practice my clinical skills in this way, because I anticipate that Telehealth services will continue to be part of my career once I become board-certified.
Through the last four months, I have learned a lot about Telehealth, and I want to share my top tips and recommendations for future students, interns, and professionals who may be seeking advice! Here are some of the most important things to know:
1. Keep your instruments close.
In the beginning, I had all my instruments neatly organized in bins behind me like I would if I were leading sessions in person. But having instruments nearby allows me to be more flexible in my facilitation. If my client pulls out a drum, I can grab mine and use it right away instead of searching in a bin behind me!
2. Monitor your energy.
You will be working extra hard to make connections and build rapport with your clients, and it’s easy to get burned out. Especially when you have multiple sessions in a row!
3. Get creative with instruments!
Depending on the setting you are working in, your clients may not have instruments of their own and you won’t be there to share yours. You can encourage your clients to make their own out of materials they have at home or implement your own instruments in a variety of interventions, like music listening or music and movement.
4. Use the technology to your advantage.
Your computer can do more than provide a connection to your clients. You can share your screen to show pictures and videos, quickly read and learn new songs, and share music from a variety of platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
5. Ask for support from your supervisors and colleagues.
If you are feeling frustrated or stuck and you need help, your supervisors and colleagues have probably had a similar experience at some point! Music therapists have been providing Telehealth services for over a year now due to the pandemic, and some have been doing it for much longer than that. They can tell you what they have done in similar situations in the past to give you ideas for what to do in the future.