I believe that if you want to learn something really, really well…then teach it.
This belief has been reinforced over and over again as a PhD student. One of the perks of being a graduate music therapy student is having the opportunity to supervise student music therapists, which then allows you to learn about your craft at a deeper level. The questions students ask force you to analyze what you are doing, how you are doing it, and why. It forces self-analysis and it forces you to be crystal clear about your professional practice and beliefs (or if not crystal clear, at least you are reflecting on and analyzing your practices and beliefs. Besides, are we ever really crystal clear? Doesn’t that understanding continue to develop and evolve? But I digress…)
Given this, I can’t help but wonder if it should be the responsibility of every practicing music therapist to be involved in supervision at some point in their career? There is the option of being supervised yourself—say through peer or professional supervision—and that’s a smart choice. But what I’m talking about is being a supervisor yourself through working with a music therapy practicum student or intern.
For me, I learned a TON from my brief stint supervising practicum students and having an intern while out in Colorado. They asked questions that prompted me to analyze and clarify why I practice the way I do. It was a great way to stretch and grow as a professional.
But beyond simply being a supervisor, I think there’s incredible value in getting supervision training. I (finally!) took my first music therapy supervision course last fall as a first-year doctoral student. And it has completely changed how I supervise! There are several elements of what I do that probably look the same as before, but I have a much clearer understanding of what the student/intern is going through and what they likely need from a student development standpoint.
So where can you find this supervisor training? Well to be honest…I don’t know. I was fortunate enough to have a course offered when I went back to school. But what about if you don’t have plans to return to school…what then?
One option is to start by purchasing and reading the Music Therapy Supervision book edited by Forinash. Maybe you can start a book club, virtual or in-person. And what about joining a peer supervision group—who says that peer supervision is limited to clinical work alone? You can also keep your eyes open for supervision workshops and sessions offered at regional and national conferences. Finally, consider looking for non-music therapy supervision courses being offered in your area. They will not be able to include the music portion of what we do (which admittedly is a huge hole), but I bet that a lot of what they’d cover would transfer.
What about you—what value do you see in being a supervisor? Do you have any other ideas for where to seek supervision training? If so, let us know by leaving a comment in the boxes below!
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