Reflecting on My Virtual Music Therapy Internship
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
Hello! My name is Reon Kamimura, I’m a music therapy intern at Able ARTS Work's day program, ART Center. I started my internship in March 2021, and as of now, I have only three more days in this journey! Here, I’d like to share about my experience, memorable moments at ART Center, and how I feel now upon completing my internship.
During my internship, I worked in individual music therapy sessions as well as some of art and music classes. Leading 1:1 music therapy session was thrilling to me because I never had any chances to do sessions in a dyadic setting prior to this internship. The students who attended in 1:1 session were diverse and their goals were different from each other. Thanks to that, I was able to try out various types of musical interventions and improve many areas of my skills. I had struggles when I started leading session on my own, but I gained confidence in what I was doing as I spent more time with them and built a rapport with each of them. I really loved to see each student’s progress in those sessions. I was delighted when they achieved something they never did before through musical interactions with me. Those moments were very special to me and made me truly realize the power of music therapy!
I loved to work in a group setting as well. I was able to co-teach one of art classes with an art instructor. I encountered some challenges in the beginning. I wasn’t sure how I could include music in the art class with a certain boundary, and it was also hard to lead the group over Zoom as I didn’t have much experiences of virtual group sessions. The more I did, the more I learned. At the end of the project of music and art in the class, I felt much comfortable in leading them. It was nice to experience multidisciplinary sessions.
I also worked in the podcast class. One time in earlier days in my internship, I worked closely with one of the students in that class. I assisted him to produce his own podcast episode. I helped him put everything he wanted together to include in his episode. I guided him interviewing his peers, edited his cover songs, and had him make all creative decisions upon creating the episode. Editing process took a quite time to be done as I was new to GarageBand, but I was satisfied with the final product I made. I was so happy when he shared that his family members loved the episode. It was a reward for me to see him feeling proud of himself. Through this project, he really opened up to me, compared to at the beginning when he was shy and didn't even follow my prompts sometimes. He responded to me well and always stayed after the class to join my sing-along during the downtime between classes. I was glad that we built a rapport through the podcast project. It was memorable for me because it was something that I could feel like “I did something” for the first time in my internship.
I can never forget about two community events I led. I forgot to mention at the beginning of this entry, but I was born and raised Japan and stayed in the United States as an international student. In the community events, I shared Japanese culture using music. For the first event, I taught how to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in Japanese. I introduced some sounds can be heard in Japan and did sing-along of “Old Macdonald Had A Farm” with animal sounds in Japan in the second event. A lot of students came to join both events and really enjoyed what I shared. It was so great to see them having fun in the event I planned and led. I was also happy that I was able to use my identity as my advantage.
Now I’d like to share how my internship experience was unique. I had to travel back to Japan in the middle of my internship, and so the almost half of my internship work was done from Japan. There is 16 hours of time difference between Japan and California. To adjust the work time in California, my days and nights have been completely flipped since I came back to Japan. My clock-in time became 12 AM, midnight since then. I was offered an option to accommodate the time difference and joined only case study session which started from around 5:30 AM so that I didn’t have to live with California time, but I didn’t want to miss opportunities to actually work as a music therapy intern and interact with students and staff. I accepted this big challenge. As I expected, yes, it was exhausting mentally and physically to live with a flipped schedule. I realized how it’s important for human to sleep in the night and work in the day. I admire those who work the night shift! As of now, I’ve been living like this for almost three months, and I still didn’t feel my body truly got used to it. I’ve been just patient and kept moving on!
The case study was the biggest accomplishment in my internship. The theme of case study had to change for a couple of times, and it was difficult process until the final direction was set up. So my case study eventually became about the use of acceptance and commitment therapy strategies in music therapy to enhance psychological resilience of the client. I was fascinated by acceptance and commitment therapy while I was researching about helpful strategies to address psychological goals in music therapy. The client was chosen because it seemed that he could benefit from this experience as well as he had a great attendance rate and he was very open to new experiences. I was very nervous at first because I had no confidence in my verbal processing skills. But at the same time, that was why I chose this theme for my case study so that I could push myself and improve as a music therapist. The case study lasted 12 weeks, ended up with 52 sessions. After a few weeks passed, I started feeling a connection with the client. He shared any feelings and he was always honest with me. We were able to build a rapport and therapeutic relationship through both verbal and musical interactions. It was a big awareness for me that I should be a human before I become a therapist. That was one of advises from my supervisor, and I came to realize that in real sense as I spent time with the client. I had both successes and challenges in the process, which are just too many to share here. I learned a lot from this case study. I really appreciate the client, who was always open and patient. I believe that we both were able to grow in this case study. On the last day of this case study, he had a surprise for me. He learned how to say “goodbye” in Japanese and said “sayonara” to me. He was really sweet, and the fact that he respected my culture meant a lot to me. Back when I met him for the first time, he said that I am the new passenger of his journey. I’m glad that I was able to be a part of his journey and share each other’s ride for even a short period of time.