Music Therapy Internship Supervisors and Preinternship Students: A Comparative Analysis of Questionnaires

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to compare perceptions of professional competency between preinternship music therapy students and internship supervisors. Preinternship music therapy students and internship supervisors were asked to fill out the Internship Concerns Questionnaire (ICQ-ST, student; ICQ-SU, supervisor). Participants (N = 106) included 85 students at 16 AMTA-approved universities (n = 85), and 21 internship supervisors at active AMTA national roster internship sites (n = 21). Twenty items on the ICQ were rated on a Likert-type scale, and 1 item (Part B) asked the participant to indicate any other concerns not addressed in the ICQ. Music therapy interns and supervisors differed significantly in their mean ratings on 2 of the 20 items: "Communicating with facility staff" (p = .025) and "Maintaining client confidence" (p = .016). In both cases the student interns reported a significantly lower mean level of concern about getting assistance in these areas than did their supervisors. The present study suggests that music therapy educators may better prepare music therapy students for a successful internship by evaluating the perceptual gaps in professional training expectations between students and supervisors prior to the internship. Internship supervisors may also benefit from student's own perceptions of their knowledge and skills upon beginning the internship. Ultimately, the student is responsible for being prepared to begin the process from intern to beginning professional at the start of the internship, and to commit to gaining as much as possible from the combination of academic and clinical experiences available to them.

There has been considerable research on the preparation process of the music therapy student regarding the attainment of entry-level professional competence. This includes curriculum evaluations of academic programs (Alley, 1978; Crowe & Rio, 2004; Galloway, 1966; Graham, 1971; Langan & Athanasou, 2005; Madsen, 1965; Tims, 1989), analysis of clinical supervision (Braswell, Decuir, & Brooks, 1985; Brookins, 1984; Carle, 1973; Galloway, 1966; Gault, 1978; Hanser, 1978; Murphy & Wheeler, 2005), and subsequent assessments of continuing education throughout the professional years (Braswell, Decuir, & Maranto, 1979,1980; Steele, 1989). Much research centered on the topic of clinical experience has focused on descriptions of student progress, competency-based evaluation, and the supervision practices of the music therapy professional (Forinash, 2001). However, less research has examined the perspective of the student, prior to or during the internship. Music therapy students considered "preintern" or "prospective interns" are any students enrolled in a music therapy degree-granting institution who have not begun an internship (including undergraduates and graduate "equivalency" students, who are taking sufficient music therapy coursework in anticipation of becoming eligible for the internship). Madsen & Kaiser (1999) state, "one aspect that appears to have not received a great deal of research concern is that of preinternship fears that a student might have prior to the internship experience" (p. 18). Wheeler (2002) recognizes the importance of the student perspective and believes the student's or intern's perceptions are of great importance in supervision.

Forinash (2001) asserts that supervision is a relationship of interaction. Given that part of the internship process is evaluation by the supervisor of the intern as well as the intern's self-evaluation, it is apparent that communication between supervisors and interns must flourish to ensure a productive learning environment. Not standardized in the music therapy literature is the question of what the supervisor's expectations of the music therapy intern are prior to entering the internship. Music therapy students are well aware of the expectation of professional entry-level competence at the conclusion of the internship, but what competencies do most students believe they lack at the start of the internship? …