Finding your Strengths

As a requirement before starting my internship at The Music Therapy Center of California, I was required to take the “Clifton Strengths Finder” test. At the time, I didn’t realize how beneficial and insightful this test would be for me. I have always been a fan of any sort of personality test, but this one gave me a new kind of understanding about how I work best and what I am good at. Clifton Strengths Finder is an online test you can take that gives you your top 5 strengths out of a list of 34 options. Your results are personalized, and it gives you lots of information on each strength. My strengths are: Discipline, Empathy, Achiever, Communication, and Woo. 

After starting my internship, I have found that understanding my strengths and how I work has been more useful than ever. First, both discipline, achiever, and communication have been very helpful for my internship, as they all provide me with the drive to get things done in an orderly manner and efficiently in some way. I am driven by accomplishing tasks, getting things done by (and often earlier than) due dates, and checking off my to-do list. In terms of internship, this has been extremely helpful as I am able to stay focused on my tasks and get things done quickly.  

Next, Empathy has been very prevalent as I am working with all sorts of different people. It is so valuable to have empathy as I work with my clients, because it helps me to understand how they may be feeling and what they need. I feel as if I got more than my allotted amount of empathy. I feel deeply for people and want to help them in whatever way I can. Looks like I went into the right career! This has also helped me to see how I can work well in a team, as I want to be supportive and caring towards others I am around.

Lastly, my strength of Woo has been very helpful for me to understand during this time in my life. During internship, you are meeting so many people, that for some it could be overwhelming and exhausting. For me, I LOVE meeting new people and finding ways to connect with and understand them. I am not intimidated by strangers, and I love striking up a conversation with those around me. I have noticed during my internship that I have felt a strong desire to get to know everyone around me very well, and to understand who they truly are. I love knowing more about people than just the surface level, and my tendency is to desire that they would want to know me too! 

After researching my strengths more and understanding what they mean in my personal life, I have also come to realize that almost all strengths can have a negative and a downside, that you must be aware of. For me, I realized that with discipline, communication, and achiever, I can become so addicted to working and getting things done, that I have a hard time slowing down and resting. I even sometimes work during my lunch break, because I love shrinking my to-do list and feeling like I got something worthwhile done with my time. For empathy, I realize that sometimes I can feel for people so much that it can overtake me, or cause me to lose focus on what I am doing. My feelings can get in the way of my ability to work or accomplish a goal. I need to stay centered and not let my empathy become out of balance. Empathy is a two edged sword. Lastly, being a woo, I can sometimes be so focused on winning someone over, that it can become unhealthy. It has been helpful for me to see that as long as I understand my strengths and how they could become negative, I am able to keep things in balance and remain healthy and positive. 

Understanding yourself and your strengths and your weaknesses can be an extremely enlightening thing. I have found that this is especially prevalent during internship. This is an intense and changing time in my life, and this has magnified my strengths in a new way. It has been a really important time of self-discovery for me so far, and has helped me to understand how I work best on my own as well as on a team. 

th (3)

I would highly suggest looking into your strengths if you haven’t already! 

https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/254033/strengthsfinder.aspx

See you next time!

-Audrey Cosgrove, MTI

Guitars in the Classroom AMASE Conference: Meeting Clients’ Sensory Needs:

Near the beginning of my (Audrey) internship I had the opportunity to go to the Guitars in the Classroom AMASE conference, with Julie Guy, who presented on using Music Strategies for Sensory Integration in the Classroom. This was such a great experience for me, as I got to get out into the community during my first week of internship, connect with others, network, and help present on music therapy, all while learning more skills to use in my own music therapy sessions! 

The challenge of presenting at this event, was that there was such a wide range of skills, settings, and challenges for the attendees with their students. When asked what challenges these teachers experienced in their classroom or facility they worked at, there was a huge list of behaviors such as biting, distracting noises, hiding under tables and desks, running or jumping, rocking, or scratching. Despite the wide variety of people attending this session at the conference, there was an overwhelming amount of difficulties related to sensory seeking behaviors. Almost all of the behaviors that these individuals noted were related to this. I got to hear all sorts of suggestions and ideas for how to handle these behaviors, and I thought it would be helpful to compile them all in one place!

The first thing to understand is that many of these behaviors that come across as aggressive, mean, defiant, or chaotic may directly relate to a sensory processing disorder. These individuals may not be intentionally disruptive, they may just be trying to get the input they need. Clients may be over or under stimulated, and need something to help calm them down or alert them. Below I have listed many different ways to help clients to receive the sensory input that they need.

First, clients who bite or frequently put objects into their mouths, may benefit from using a chew tubes (often called “chews” or “chewies”) which are usually small rubber items. Chewies can be chewed or sucked on when need sensory input to the jaw. Some styles can be put on a necklace so they are always accessible for a client to help calm them down and provide tactile sensory stimulation.

Next, vibrating pillows. I have seen these used in a session before when a client was exhibiting aggressive behaviors, such as throwing things and hitting the floor and wall. The therapist brought the pillow to him and pushed it against his feet as he was laying on the floor, and this immediately helped the client to calm down. These pillows vibrate when pressure is put on them, so a client can squeeze them, sit on them, put in their lap, lean on them, or any other positioning to create the vibration effect. 

e352f64417d07ba80f91431a1ec8e30b-foam-rollers-muscle.jpgLastly, any variety of rollers for sensory input can be very effective! You can use foam rollers, ones used for muscle relaxation, or anything that can provide sensory input for clients who are sensory-seekers. 

tactileeggshakers-setof12_l.jpg

 

Using instruments that may be calming to a client, or provide sensory stimulation that they may be seeking is a great tool. Examples of sensory instruments include tactile egg shakers, which have bumps on them which provides tactile stimulation and the sound of the shakers can provide auditory input. 

th (1)

Cabasas are also great source of tactile and auditory input. The cabasa can be rolled along a client’s hands, arms, legs, back, as it may provide a calming sensation for them. 

An ocean drum provides auditory stimulation, as the balls roll around inside the drum, providing a louder sound for clients who may be seeking that. Clients also may enjoy the way that the balls look (visual input) when they roll around in the drum. 

Other items or ideas that may help clients to receive sensory input and stimulation:

th (2)

  • Ice cubes or ice packs 
  • A bag filled with sand or rice (can be put on clients lap, or clients can push/pull/lift it)
  • Squeezes along client’s hands, arms, or legs
  • Squeeze balls
  • Bear hugs
  • Yoga balls

There are so many more ideas out there for sensory stimulation for clients who may be seeking this! Do you have any other techniques or tips? Let me know in the comments!!

Click here to access presentation handouts for more information.

See you next time!

Audrey 

PS The Out-of-Sync Child is a great resource to learn more about sensory regulation!

You ARE Capable!: Starting your Music Therapy Internship

Hey, everyone! My name is Audrey and I am just finishing up week two of my internship at The Music Therapy Center of California! I wanted to give you all a couple tips on how to survive your first couple weeks of internship, and some encouragement for the journey are about to embark on! 

First, you will experience a whole new level of exhaustion. Now, I know what you’re thinking- How could anything be as exhausting as studying music therapy: taking upwards to 21 credits, ensembles, rehearsals, practicum sites, tests, homework, attempting a personal life, and time for yourself?! While those things are exhausting, starting your internship is a whole new ballgame! Unlike in school, you have to be “on” all day. When interacting with supervisors, clients, parents, other therapists, and anyone else you come across, you always have to put forth your best self and always be professional! After my first day of internship, I came home and fell asleep within 30 minutes-I even forgot to eat (oops. Don’t do that. Self-care, folks!). Taking every opportunity you can to rest in a way that works for you will give you energy for the next day.

68557814_908084099547260_1062305670415515648_n

Because of how exhausted you will become, rest is more important than ever during internship. You have to learn what works best for YOU. I am an extrovert, so I found that I personally don’t need a lot of time in my evenings or weekends by myself or doing things such as watching TV, reading, or laying in bed. I have found that I am best filled up and energized by spending time with people I enjoy and being active! This has been a challenge moving to a place where I know nobody, and living alone, but I have found ways to stay connected with people who are important to me! Find what you need-whether that be spending your time alone, exercising, hanging out with friends, napping (always a yes), journaling, or whatever works for you! Give yourself time to figure out what fills you up, so you can pour out on others!

Second, TAKE NOTES. Your first couple of weeks is a whirlwind, and you can’t possibly remember everything that you have to do or everything you have seen. I observed so many therapists my first two weeks, I had to make notes at the end of the day about things I admired in the other therapists’ work, things to remember, and ideas that came to mind throughout the day. I created a notebook with sections about my internship to help me retain all of the info, which will be a great tool to have when I am done!

Third, attitude is everything. I’ve only barely started and this has already become a huge lesson for me. Yes, things will be hard. Yes, you will be working a lot and likely unpaid. Yes, things won’t always go as planned. Despite all of this, you still have control over your own attitude and the way you react. I have already made mistakes throughout internship, but that is how you learn! Internship is likely one of the last times you will ever get this close of supervision and feedback, so soak up as much as possible! Choosing to take this time as a huge learning experience, instead of just a box to check off will make a huge difference. You will get out of it what you put in. Plus, you chose this internship. Remember when you applied and couldn’t wait to hear back? Keep it all in perspective! 

_) tell the one i likr thst i likrhim

Lastly, internship is a huge time of self-discovery and learning about yourself. Soon before coming to my internship, I learned about the Enneagram. For those of you that haven’t heard of it, the Enneagram is essentially a personality test that puts you into one of nine personality types. When I found out I was a six, the loyalist, I was surprised by how accurate it was. Through my Enneagram number, I have realized that I am someone who doubts myself a lot. I know I am talented and a hard worker, but I often jump to worse case scenarios and worry that I am not good enough.I have to remind myself that I was chosen for this internship, and I am 100% capable as long as I am willing to learn. One of my favorite artists, Sleeping At Last, wrote a song for each enneagram type, and the song he wrote about my Enneagram type (Atlas: Six) has resonated so deeply with me, particularly for this time in my life at internship. I am far from family, friends, living in a completely new place, being pushed to new levels in my career, and trying to find my way. One of my favorite lyrics in his song says “Maybe I’m stronger than I realize.”

Maybe YOU are stronger than you realize. Internship will be hard and there will be things that you don’t know if you can handle, but it is all a part of the process, as long as you are willing to let it change and grow you. You got this!!

For anyone who wants to learn about their Enneagram type! I highly suggest it: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

See you in the next post!

Audrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full-time Student to Full-time Intern: Transitioning Lifestyles!

Hello everyone!

It has already been almost 4 whole weeks since I started life as a music therapy intern! I thought I would write my first blog post about my still fresh experiences of what it is like to transition from being a full-time student to a full-time intern, and give some helpful tips of how to prepare for your brand new life and schedule!

First thing’s first- giving yourself enough time to move! If your internship is in a different location than where you currently are, especially if it is in an unfamiliar place, give yourself enough time to secure a place to live and to physically move your stuff and get settled. I was living in Lawrence, KS, so I had quite a long journey to go to get to San Diego. I flew out to California about a month before my internship started, and gave myself a week to find somewhere to live. Before I left, I compiled information with different apartment options, and a plan for visiting each one. Even if there seems like there aren’t many options online, once you are driving around the area, you will notice that there are complexes around every corner! It is especially helpful going at night to see if it is a place that you feel safe in.

I moved in about a week before my internship started, which I felt for me personally, was an ideal amount of time to get settled. Power through and try to get everything unpacked in the first few days- it’ll really help your new home actually feel like home! Take the rest of the time to really relax and explore the city before you are in full-blown internship mode! 

(^ Don’t let this be you)

Some important things to consider before your internship starts includes practicing driving to the office during the typical time you would have to get there, especially if that time is during rush hour. Do you usually have to go into work at 8 am and it takes you about 20 minutes to get there? Practice getting up early one day and head out around 7:30 and see if that gives you enough time! Remember, being early is on time, and being on time is late. I have found that the app “Waze” is really helpful. There is an option in the app where you can put what time you have to be at a certain destination, and it will tell you exactly what time you should leave based off of typical traffic patterns. 

Scope out the area around your office too- look for restaurants, grocery stores, walking trails- anything you think will be beneficial for you during your time during internship. I have an hour every day for lunch, and one thing I have been doing is going on at least a 30 minute walk every day during my break at a nearby park. It really helps me recharge, get some fresh air, and energize myself for the rest of the day! 

As for internship starting- what everyone says is definitely true. I thought after four years of going to school for 12 hours every day, I would be prepared for anything that was coming my way…

The kind of energy you need for music therapy sessions all day every day is very different. This is where self care is key (I know, I’m sure you’ve heard that millions of times, but it’s true!) Make sure you take the time to schedule in things you need to relax and unwind. Also, meal prep!!! It will save you lots of time and money. Not having to worry about what I am going to eat throughout the week is a huge time and headache saver. Also, always carry lots and lots of water on you, and keep snacks in your car if you are commuting to different facilities! 

Lastly… sleep! When you’re in school, you may only have to worry about facilitating sessions once or twice a week, but soon, you’ll have many back to back sessions every day! A healthy and working voice is very important, and sleep is the key to this. (And water… hydrate or diedrate!) 

I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure for the next 6 months- happy reading and see you in the next post! And if you are also an intern or about to start your internship soon- congratulations! You can do it!!

-Juliana Hsu 

Strengths and their Shadows

I took the Clifton Strengthsfinder 2.0 test going into my freshman year of college. My school required every student to take it as a means to gain insight into ourselves, and to provide a building block to grow from. According to the test my top strength out of 34 is empathy. A short description of this strength, as defined by Strengthsfinder, is “People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.”

My Empathy strength is something I greatly value  and appreciate in myself and try to cultivate in a healthy way. It is what has driven me into a helping profession, music therapy. I attribute a lot of the ease in building rapport with clients and my ability to reach out to the underdog to it.  However, every strength has an evil twin sister and I would like to talk about the shadow side of empathy. I truly do view this natural propensity as one of my greatest assets, but I also know at times it can be my fatal flaw.

I am not always aware of when I am taking on the feelings of others. There are often times when I will be perfectly fine, but then enter into a conversation between two people that is tense and immediately feel stressed myself. Once I “take on that feeling,”  it can be very difficult for me to shake it off. Sometimes I will carry that stress through the day, constantly feeling on edge.

These “shadows” don’t take away from what empathy is. Discovering it in myself also means learning how to separate myself from it when necessary as well. My first step has been becoming aware of it and how it affects me. I’ve learned that with

this awareness, my next move forward is to set healthy boundaries for myself; something that I am in the process of learning currently. I have also discovered that when something feels off, it’s not necessarily because of me and that’s ok. In the words of the great Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”!

-Noriah Uribe

I lost it! It’s gone!: Voice-less music therapy

I lost my voice entirely for three full days, however, like in the theater, the show must go on and the job must still be done. Despite not being able to vocalize anything above a soft whisper, I still had clients who needed services. Although not an ideal situation, sometimes things are out of your control. However, thanks to the support of a few wonderful supervisors and co-workers I was able to adapt and create voice-less sessions. I wouldn’t recommend losing your voice as a music therapist, but do as I say and not as I do. So, in case you have the unfortunate fortune of this 

happening to you too, I thought I would share a few tips I learned.

  1.    Recorded music is your friend

As music therapists we know that live is almost always better, because we can manipulate it for our needs on the spot. However, recorded music is better than no music. It will provide a steady beat and will likely give you different timbers than you can provide on your own. So play a game of name that tune or pass out instruments and rock out to an exciting song, with a bit of hidden exercise built in. Instruct clients to follow the music as you stop and start or get loud and soft. A little pre-recorded music can go a long way.

  1.    Drum roll, please!

Drum circles are great for all populations. They encourage prosocial, motor, and cognitive functions. So, take time to drum to a few pre-recorded songs. Maybe it’s a song that relates to the season or a holiday coming. Try rhythmic imitation or build group cohesions as everyone follows a leader who changes speed or stops and starts.

  1.    Yay for TIMP and PSE

If you are familiar with Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) techniques, I would recommend using TIMP and PSE. No verbal explanation or continual prompting is needed to implement this technique. As long as a beet is present and clients can visually track your movement, the intervention can be carried out.

  1.    Embrace your inner mime

Because you will not have no way to communicate verbally, body language will be everything. Big body movements and exaggerated facial expressions will aid in your success. Having signs or something to write instructions on isn’t a bad idea too.

-Noriah Uribe

Thumbs up for the Belly Up- FUNdraiser

        My outlook on fundraisers has usually been that they are a necessary evil. I often viewed them as the time of year when a non-profit would have to shmooze up to the rich and affluent in the hopes that they would donate enough money for the non-profit to continue to provide whatever services that may be. However, this past weekend I came to see fundraisers very differently as I had the pleasure of being a part of a fundraiser, Greatest Hits, for Banding Together, a non profit that provides music therapy opportunities to those that may not have access to it other wise. The fundraiser was held at the Belly Up, a concert venue in Solana Beach, California. It featured a live auction, donor board, wine and beer pull, as well as variety of live musical performances. The event sold out for the first time in its nine year history thanks to the support of local grammy award winning musician and avocado farmer, Jason Mraz.

        As the events of the fundraiser progressed and money was raised I noticed something. People were excited to give and be a part of Banding Together’s mission. The community atmosphere was palpable as clients participated as “hype men” (a.k.a. The ones building up the excitement in the room by cheering the event along) for those around them, cheering on donors as over $60,000 was raised to make a difference for those with special needs to experience music opportunities. Those that gave, gave generously because they believed in the cause. It was as I looked around at the excitement on everyone’s faces, those giving and those volunteering, that I noticed my previous perspective changing. Those attending the event were not there to be an ATM. Instead, they were there to stand with Banding Together and share in the mission. The Greatest Hits fundraiser was meant to showcase the individuals who benefit from the programs, why it matters, and what fruit partnering together will produce and it did so exceedingly well. I will without a doubt look back on it with the fondest of memories.

-Noriah Uribe MTI

 

jason maraz at the bellyup