Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Fear of Starting Practicum

 Hello readers, Shelby Riley back again!

Coming to Thailand as an incoming junior I began to have a bit of a panic attack thinking of all the reasons that I was not ready to be placed in a practicum setting. First off, I have never done a real session of practicum in my life. Second, I was going to be partnered with someone who had already had practicum experience. Third, that my lack of experience would impact my ability to add input and ideas into the session. Since being in Thailand I realized how much my self doubt was getting in the way and how much I have been preparing for this situation over the past two years at the University of Kansas.

Throughout my two years in the Music Therapy program at KU I have taken a number of music therapy courses. Each of these classes has prepared us to work with different populations and teaching us about potential environments. We have done mock sessions in front of our classmates and teachers in order to prepare us for real sessions. When entering into the program I was knew that I would be taking these classes for the first two years and then starting practicum my third year. What I did not know was that I would have the opportunity to start practicum a semester early by going on this trip. At KU we do individual practicums. We are each assigned a client or a group of clients that we work with on our own once a week. However, here in Thailand we are partnered up and are given two practicum sessions per week. Most pairs had one group of clients as well as one individual client.

Going into my first practicum was nerve wracking to say the very least. I did not want to disappoint my partners, the client, or my teachers/ supervisors. The car ride to the Sirindhorn Rehabilitation Center, took what seemed like two hours.
 Sirindhorn Rehabilitation Center

 When we arrived I began to think about our plan over and over, and then it was time to begin the session. My partners and I were told that we would be working with a group of clients ages 2-7 with Cerebral Palsy. We began the session with 5 clients and more came in and out during. Throughout the session, I looked around to observe how my partners and supervisors were engaging with the clients as well as each other, and how they were approaching music therapy techniques with the children. Each of us were sitting facing our clients meeting them at eye level so they were not distracted by the others. I observed conversations about goals with the Occupational Therapists and also the parents and guardians. Everyone seemed calm and focused, which put me at ease.

As the session progressed I began to realize how prepared I really was to be in this position. The classes, observations, and mock sessions we had done up until this point really gave me all of the tools I needed to be successful during my time here. I was able to focus on the client instead of my fear of messing something up. By the end of what seemed like a 20-minute session (actually 90 minutes), I felt all of the confidence I needed to enter my next session later that day. It was an “ah ha” moment for me, as the youngest member of the group, that even if I had never led my own session I am still capable of trying my best, observing others, and learning from my mistakes. That is the only way to improve and to help me on my journey to becoming the best music therapist I can be. I have learned here that there is not one right way to approach a session. By working with other therapists we have had to improvise on the spot and work with each other on the fly. I have learned a lot from my classmates, supervisors and teacher that I don’t think I could possibly have learned in an individual practicum setting.

I am so thankful for this experience in the practicum setting and for all of the preparation that has been provided to me from KU. This has given a fearful incoming junior the confidence to know that I have been given a great deal of knowledge and skills I will need to begin my individual practicum in the fall. 

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