A Day in the Life of a Music Therapy Intern at Heart and Harmony
by Isabelle Spence, MTI
My name is Isabelle, and I am a fall 2021 intern at Heart and Harmony. Applying for internships can be overwhelming. When considering which internship sites to apply for, it is important to keep in mind what kind of caseload you are interested in working with and the kind of schedule that is best suited for your work style. A day in the life of a music therapy intern is different for every internship site. In general, commuter-based and home health private practices will have longer days due to travel time, but this allows for built in brain breaks. Facility-based private practices that utilize mostly contractual work or have their own therapy space may have more condensed days with less break time in-between sessions.
Here at Heart and Harmony, we provide home health services and some contracts at nearby facilities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Join me in this post for a play by play of what a day in the life of a music therapy intern looks like here at Heart and Harmony!
Morning RoutineWhile my schedule varies from day to day, I have a consistent structure and routine. This sets me up for success for the day.
- Prepare for the day
- I start my days with a hot cup of coffee and a nutritious breakfast
- I prioritize taking twenty minutes each morning to relax and get ready for the day
- Think through my schedule and responsibilities for the day
- Ensure I have all the materials I need for my sessions
- Take my temperature and complete my daily COVID screening.
- Drive to the supervisor’s house
- Hit the road to my supervisor’s house! In non-pandemic times, interns at Heart and Harmony rotate supervisors throughout the week.
- Arrive about fifteen minutes early to discuss the plan for the day, check out instruments, and gather materials for the day.
- Car time with the supervisor
- Plan for the first session and discuss general music therapy related topics.
- This supervision time is great for expanding your general knowledge base and asking specific questions.
- During discussions, you learn a lot about being a home health music therapist and many unknown realities of being a working professional, such as the difference between a contractor and employee, tax write-offs, and scheduling.
- This valuable time can be used for anything you want to learn about and is a great resource that makes Heart and Harmony’s program really stand out!
First Session of the DayOnce we arrive at our first session of the day, we gather materials, sanitize instruments, and put on our PPE. We enter the client’s home or facility and fill out the proof of visit paperwork. At different points in your internship, your responsibilities will change. At Heart and Harmony, your responsibilities will look a little bit like this.
- Month One
- Observe your supervisor, the client, and take lots of notes.
- I brought my notebook and an iPad to track data and notate important observations and music preferences.
- Month Two
- Start and end the sessions with hello and goodbye and try addressing an objective or two in each session. This is your rapport building time with your new clients.
- At this point in your internship, you will start practicing your guitar and piano much more and expand your repertoire of music tremendously.
- Month Three
- Lead about half of your sessions either with your supervisor or co-intern.
- Interact with your clients and enjoy building rapport with them.
- Start to learn about the different types of documentation and what different state agencies require.
- Month Four
- Start leading full sessions
- Continue to fine-tune your facilitation, data tracking, and paperwork skills.
- Month Five
- Begin experimenting with your personal style of interventions.
- Take on more leadership roles in sessions and treatment plans
- Independently complete assessment and evaluation reports.
- Month Six
- By month six you will essentially be running a full caseload with minimal assistance!
- Develop termination skills.
Supervision TimeAfter the first session of the day, we return back to the car and compare notes and data. The supervisor will give you feedback on your facilitation and ask you questions. I am a verbal processor, so I like to ask hypothetical questions, discuss my decision process, and analyze what I could have done better. This time is for you to ask questions and reflect on the session as you need to!
On most days, I have one or two morning sessions. Around lunchtime, we either return to the supervisor’s house or go to a coffee shop to work on paperwork, internship assignments, or take a mental break for a few minutes. This is important to reset your brain for the second half of the day. The afternoon looks pretty similar to the morning. I usually average about 2-4 client hours in the afternoons with around an hour of driving and/or transition time for a total of 6-7 hours per day, give or take.
End of the Work Day
After sessions wrap up for the day, we return to the supervisor’s house, fill out paperwork, finish any additional supervision time, and put away borrowed materials. I then head home to take up to an hour break before prepping for the next day. I cook dinner and get to work on internship assignments, repertoire expansion, material creation, documentation, or session planning.
You can record hours towards the completion of your internship for any internship-related work. Personally, I try to limit myself to only 2-3 hours at home on weekdays. This leaves me enough time in the evenings to engage in self-care, explore Fort Worth, and/or hangout with friends. On weekends, I work on assignments for a few hours each day and do my housework, exercise, and leisure.
In comparison to college, internship allows you to have more of a balance between work/homework and free time. You will discover new hobbies and interests and explore your community. Internship is a great place to discover who you are as a clinician and an adult.