Philosophy of Music Therapy Intern Training

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Blank Children's Hospital

Internship Supervision Philosophy

The music therapy program at Blank Children's Hospital (BCH) believes that the relationship between the music therapy intern and the intern supervisor is one of the most important and potentially transformational relationships the intern will have in their career (Feiner, 2001); therefore internship supervision is taken very seriously at BCH.  Our internship philosophy is based on the teaching and writing of New York University music therapy professor and private music therapy practitioner Susan Feiner.

The intern will begin the program shadowing the music therapy supervisor for approximately 3-6 weeks.  The period of shadowing will be followed by the opportunity to co-lead music therapy sessions with the music therapy supervisor for approximately 2-3 months.  The final phase of the internship will be the opportunity for the intern to work independently throughout the hospital and begin to build on what will eventually become the intern's personal music therapy philosophy and practice.  The transitions through these three main phases of the internship will be discussed and agreed upon by both the intern and the supervisor.

Throughout the internship, the intern and supervisor will meet privately for one hour on a weekly basis.  During weekly supervision, interns will discuss one self-assessment scenario and one music therapy session scenario (as developed by the music therapy program at New York University and adapted for use at BCH).  These documents offer a concrete method for the intern to learn how to self-assess their experience during a music therapy session and to learn how to make clear decisions regarding music therapy goals, objectives and interventions for patients and their families.  During weekly supervision, the intern and supervisor will identify issues, obstacles, and circumstances where the supervisor can offer more (or less) support to the intern.  Learning is a constantly changing process, and this relationship will undergo many changes throughout the internship.  Weekly supervision allows the intern and supervisor to regularly assess these changes (Feiner, 2001).  Depending on the intern's needs and interests, supervision can also be used to support the intern in strengthening musical skills (i.e. learning pick patterns or "riffs" on the guitar).  Music will also be utilized in supervision to help the intern process internship experiences and explore self-awareness.  For example, if the intern is finding difficultly playing "sad" music with clients, the supervisor might invite the intern to improvise "sad" music in supervision in order to safely explore the obstacle together (Feiner, 2001).  The ultimate goal of the intern and supervisor relationship will be that the intern will be allowed to explore new skills, make mistakes, and learn to identify their needs and advocate for themselves within a safe, supportive and nurturing relationship (Feiner, 2001).  

In addition to individual supervision, the music therapy internship program at BCH offers a peer supervision group that includes the child life intern(s).  The availability of this group will vary depending on the schedules of the intern supervisors and interns in the Child Life Department.  This group will meet once per week, will allow the interns an opportunity to learn from each other, and will allow the interns a safe space to process challenges and celebrate successes they are encountering in their internship experiences.  The leadership of each intern peer group will be shared by the music therapy intern supervisor and the child life intern supervisors.  This offers all the interns an opportunity to cull knowledge from each of the intern supervisors within the Child Life Department at BCH.

Music therapy interns at BCH are educated in various music therapy interventions utilized in a medical setting with special attention to the use of technology in music therapy and music-assisted relaxation (MAR).  Interns will also become well-versed in the policies and procedures of the hospital as well as how to perform and exhibit professionalism as a contributing member of a large and diverse patient care team.  Because the music therapy program at BCH is relatively new in the hospital, the music therapy intern will have a unique opportunity to learn skills associated with growing a new music therapy program.  As a teaching hospital, BCH is committed to advancing the careers of medical professionals – including music therapists.  At the end of this internship, the music therapy intern will be fully prepared to work as a music therapist in a medical setting and will learn the skills required to continue to learn and grow throughout their music therapy career.


Feiner, S.  (2001).  A Journey Through Internship Supervision: Roles, Dynamics and Phases of the Supervisory Relationship.  In M. Forinash (Ed.) Music Therapy Supervision. (pp. 99-115). Dallas, TX: Barcelona Publishers.