In order to be a Board-Certified music therapist (MT-BC) you must first pass an examination and then take continuing education courses to re-certify every 5 years. Part of this training includes adhering to a strict code of ethics about our music therapy practice. My role as a small business owner further extends the level of professionalism that we strive to maintain good relationships not only with our clients but with the facilities that actually pay us.
Our business goal is to provide the best quality music therapy services available. That means our therapists arrive 5-10 minutes early to prepare for each group. We respect the schedules of the programs that we serve and will have a substitute available if the regularly scheduled therapist is ill or unavailable.
Each session is planned to encourage each participant to be fully engaged in the music making process, which allows each participant to make neurological connections in the brain and physiological changes in the body, which then provides the conduit for achieving goals.
Now I don’t expect every music therapist to have the same level of commitment or passion to this profession. But I do want people that experience music therapy to realize the importance of this service and the added value our programs offer to the facility. And, most importantly, I want the participants to have fun!
Last week Alison and I had a meeting with a program director at a very large facility that offers skilled nursing, long-term care and memory care in addition to their large assisted living community. We were excited about presenting our programs and adding them to our client list.
After discussing our business and therapeutic approach, the program director told us that he was familiar with music therapy and that he already had a music therapist that he was not happy with. He told us that she was often late to groups and often was unprepared. While I am happy that we have a new client for our business, I am disappointed that another therapist would leave a bad impression.
Thankfully, this program director has had years of experience and has worked with many other music therapists and he understood the importance of what we do and that the therapist we are replacing was not how most of us operate.
I understand burnout, and have experienced it first hand, but I encourage all music therapists to examine the work you are doing, and determine if it is the right fit for your level of experience and expertise. If it is not a good match, take the time to refer the group to another therapist that may be a better fit for the program so that you don’t leave the individual, group or facility with a negative impression of this great profession.