Student Music Therapists' Differences in Their Clinical Reflections across Practicum Levels

By Bae, Min-Jeong | Music Therapy Perspectives, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Student Music Therapists' Differences in Their Clinical Reflections across Practicum Levels


Bae, Min-Jeong, Music Therapy Perspectives


Achieving competence has been an ongoing focus of research in music therapy as it relates to supervision in music therapy education and training (Bruscia, 1986; Bruscia, et al., 1981; Crowe & Rio, 2004; Dileo, 2001; Farnan, 2001; Forinash, 2001; Croene, 2004; Jackson, 2008; Knight, 2008; Madsen & Kaiser, 1999; McClain, 2001; Murphy & Wheeler, 2005; Tanguay, 2008; Wheeler, 2002). Forinash (2001) edited the first 'Music Therapy Supervision' book to help clinicians and scholars gain knowledge in various aspects of supervision in relation to meeting the appropriate competence requirements in music therapy practice. McClain (2001) noted that competency is viewed as a continuum of development, while Farnan (2001) suggested a timeline for the attainment of competencies. In 2007, the American Music Therapy Association appointed a task force to develop competencies for the advanced level of music therapy practice, which resulted in four domains: (a) professional growth, (b) musical development, (c) personal growth and development, and (d) integrative clinical experience (AMTA, 2007).

Developing competencies at the pre-professional level, which is defined in this study as the period prior to the completion of internship, differs from that at the professional level. The focus of competence development at this preprofessional level includes developing academic and clinical competencies while identifying one's personal strengths and limitations early in training (Alley, 1978; Braswell, et al., 1980; Brookins, 1984; Decuir & Jacobs, 1990; Forinash, 2001; Furman, et al., 1992; Greenfield, 1978; Taylor, 1987). Research has recognized the importance of understanding various aspects of the student's clinical training, including technical, behavioral, ethical, multicultural, and emotional areas (Alley, 1980; Darrow, et al., 2001; Dileo, 2001; Estrella, 2001; Grant & McCarty, 1990; Madsen & Kaiser, 1999; Maranto, 1987). For example, Grant and McCarty (1990) analyzed personal and professional changes in the emotions of music therapy interns, while Madsen and Kaiser (1999) surveyed music therapy/music education majors regarding their pre-internship fears and found that students felt the most fear in the areas of "general preparation/being prepared," followed by "failure/not cut out for therapy," and "internship supervisor/placement." Knight (2008) conducted a comparative analysis of questionnaires between music therapy internship supervisors and pre-internship students, in which music therapy interns reported less need for assistance compared to supervisors in the areas of "Communicating with facility staff" and "Maintaining client confidence." Findings from these studies imply that students need specific guidance in their professional and personal development. Due to the unique and wide range of studies that music therapy education involves, it is imperative for educators and supervisors to understand the personal and professional development of student music therapists to help them meet the required competencies in both aspects of the profession.

While traditional music therapy research has focused on different areas of competence, there is growing recognition of the need for more research in relation to student development (Luce, 2008; Milgram-Luterman, 1997) and students' perspectives of competence development (Wheeler, 2002) to understand students' process of their development from both students' and supervisors' perspectives and provide more effective supervision. Milgram-Luterman (1997) presented a developmental theory of music therapy undergraduate education as a reflective practice and suggested that there are five developmental phases that undergraduate music therapy students go through: novice, immersion through observation, experience, reflection, and integration phase. The five developmental phases share common characteristics of counselors as suggested by Hogan (1964) and Stoltenberg (1981). Stoltenberg presented a counselor complexity model in which the counselor characteristics were categorized according to four levels of suggested development: Dependent level, Dependency-autonomy conflict, conditional dependency, and master counselor. …

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