Ins and Outs of Internship: From One Intern to Another

by Addy Rampelli, MTI

Internship is an exciting time of growth, learning, and finding your voice as a music therapist. This is something every music therapist has in common, yet there aren’t tons of resources for interns once they’ve secured their internship. Heart and Harmony has got you covered with Annie’s three-part Intern’s Survival Guide series, but I’m here today to dive in deeper into some things I wish I knew before starting my internship!

Note: these are my own personal thoughts and opinions, and what works for me, might not work for someone else. Hope you enjoy!

Hardest part about doing music therapy full time?

In college, we only get about 1-2 clinical hours of music therapy a week. Going from a couple clinical hours a week to 20+ clinical hours can be a bit overwhelming at first. Of course, it’s exciting to finally be doing “the thing”, but that doesn’t make it easy.

The hardest part of transitioning into doing music therapy full time for me was conserving my voice throughout the day. I’m an instrumentalist, so going from singing maybe an hour a day to all day everyday took a toll on my voice the first couple of weeks of leading sessions.

Over time your voice will catch up to you, but until then make sure to rest your voice when you can, drink tons of fluids, make sure you’re singing healthily, and never sing when it hurts!

How do you process your day once the sessions are over?

Some days are harder than others, and that’s just the nature of providing therapy services. For me, it’s extremely important to process my day so I don’t take too much of my work home with me.

When the day is done I’ll usually sit in my car for a minute and reflect on the day. Sometimes just stopping and thinking for a moment is enough to ease the mind, but other days I’ll call a friend and talk through a scenario I had. Talking about it and not keeping it bottled in is a very helpful processing tool for me. If I need to go into more detail, then I can while talking to someone (have to be HIPAA compliant, obviously) I will write it down in a journal that I keep to myself.

Something else I find important is making sure to use off-days for off-day things. Self-care, relaxation, going to the movies, just do non-work things. Personally, if I don’t take time to not do work, my brain turns to oatmeal and I can’t be the best version of myself for my clients.

So don’t feel guilty about enjoying your off-days, because we have to help ourselves so we can help others!

What are some must-have tools or instruments you need for your internship?

My supervisors have instruments that we use, and Miranda wrote a post on that, A Music Therapist’s Go-To Guide for Instruments and Resources.

Other things I needed for an internship would be a guitar for practicing at home, a keyboard or some sort of keyboard app, an iPad for music during sessions, and a work station/desk at my house. Just because you can work in bed, doesn’t mean you should do your work in bed. It’s really nice to have a designated space I can go to focus and be super productive!

Have you noticed any personal changes in yourself over the course of your internship?

About month 2 of my internship, I started having “Impostor Syndrome” real bad. I was doing the thing, having fun, successful sessions, making great progress with clients, yet I felt like an impostor. I was very open with my supervisors about this, so I was able to talk with them and combat some of these feelings.

Now, as I’m approaching the finish line, I can successfully say I have not totally overcome all of my “Impostor Syndrome” feelings, but that’s okay! I’m at a place where, yes, I occasionally have these feelings, but I’m so much more confident now!

Finding my voice as an upcoming new music therapist, playing to my natural strengths, and acknowledging that it’s okay to not be the best at everything but still working hard to develop my skills, really helped me with becoming more confident in myself. This has been something that won’t stop once these six months wrap up, but it is something that is more common than not in our field, so it’s important we talk about it! 

What is community engagement like- or do you get the opportunity to do any?

As many of us do, I moved away for my internship. My fiance, our dog, and I moved up to North Texas to complete our last six months of schooling.

Not knowing anyone in our new city made things a bit lonely in the beginning. My supervisors are so wonderful and have made me feel like a part of the team from the beginning, but at the end of the day, they’re my bosses and I’m their intern, so cutting up on the weekends together isn’t super appropriate.

My internship has multiple interns at one time, so luckily my co-intern and I have become friends! If you’re interning somewhere and there are other interns, even if not music therapy, BEFRIEND THEM! They know what you’re going through and y’all are probably in a similar place in life.

Now even if you don’t have any co-interns or move somewhere with someone, get out and explore your new home! Go for walks, museums, coffee shops, parks, get out and discover your new city! I’ve also heard of interns joining fitness groups, church groups, cooking classes, or local clubs or sorts, just to be around other people!

It can be very easy to self-isolate during this time, but it is so important to talk to people that aren’t your supervisors or clients.

Want to know more about Heart and Harmony’s music therapy internship?

Heart and Harmony Music Therapy has a university-affiliated internship program, with start dates in January and July. Up to three interns are accepted per internship cycle.

Heart and Harmony interns have the opportunity to observe, treat, and co-treat a wide variety of client populations in a wide variety of settings in the DFW area. 

For more information about Heart and Harmony’s internship program and to fill out an application, visit our internship page and contact our Internship Director, Madison Michel, MT-BC to introduce yourself! 

Addy Rampelli, MTI

Music Therapy Intern

addy@heartandharmony.com