Monday, August 5, 2013

A Thailand Flavored Music Therapy Student

Well folks, it's been a little over a month since I've been back in the states and I have to say, I'm ready to start eating rice again. The last few days of my time in Thailand I was scurrying to find a dish WITHOUT it, but now I'm sort of craving a side of white-rice with my morning coffee and green pepper omelette (a side of that fish sauce and super hot peppers would be great, too).

Aside from my recent rice cravings, my transition back to the US has gone fairly smooth, allowing me to comprehend a bigger picture of what this trip has done for/to me. After I landed in Kansas City on Monday night, I was back at work at 8am the next morning. Frantically trying to catch up on emails and several cups of coffee a day, pushed me right through the jet lag. After two weeks of work on campus, I shipped off to Missouri to start rehearsals for 'Into The Woods'. Looking back, I haven't had a full day to just veg out and dwell on the differences between the US and Thailand, which I think is a perk. Jumping right back into my busy life has allowed me to stretch out the transition. Those moments of "Oh, in Thailand they always have fresh fruit (or fill in the blank)", and "Man, I really wish there was an Amazon Coffee around here" have been interspersed in random conversation and thought almost every day rather than the shock happening all at once.

One part of my transition I've been thinking about lately, is using music therapy back here in the States. Without skipping a beat, I could toss out the nuances of music therapy particular to Thailand and the skills I gained overseas, easily jumping back into class, practicum, and clinical observations this fall with my former understanding of MT before leaving for Thailand. While this would likely go unnoticed by my colleagues and professors, it would be a huge disservice and missed opportunity in my professional development. In general, the facilitation skills, leadership skills, musical skills, and therapist skills I gained in Thailand aren't taught in the US - nor were they necessarily "taught" in Thailand - they were observed, practiced, created, and molded through the work and interaction with my peers and clients in a very foreign setting. This foreign setting provided an environment very different from the structured, comfortable, and "safe" environment in the US, challenging me to grab ahold of some of these therapist skills I wouldn't have an opportunity to identify, inspect, and shape in the US. Two areas of growth in particular, were learning how to facilitate a music therapy session with someone I can't dialogue with, and effectively working in a treatment team (both directly transferring to my desire to work in the hospital environment with an interdisciplinary team for the medically fragile!).

Some of the most important development I've had as a therapist in Thailand weren't the new skills or diverse practices I was learning in music therapy, it was the fine-tuning of THERAPIST skills. Fine-tuning that can only be done through hands-on, clinical work in a challenging, new, different, and fast-paced environment. I am now flavored by Thailand. I have a new zest as I venture into my final year of grad school. My five-week trip to Thailand will forever influence my work as a music therapist. It has broadened my perspective and will continue to affect the way I venture through life for many years to come. Thailand was humbling, transformative, invigorating, refreshing, magical, and empowering. Now, the key is to remain receptive, welcome new ideas, and be willing to change. Perhaps, I will need a reminder in a year or two? Who wants to go back?!

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