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Guest Blog Series - Being A First Time Supervisor - Part 1

Welcome to this first chapter in our new series of posts by Faith Halverson-Ramos, a US music therapist, who has kindly agreed to chronicle her experiences of being a first time supervisor for us. I know there will be many of you who will learn from and enjoy reading about Faith’s journey. We welcome your thoughts and recollections about your initial experiences as a supervisee or supervisor in the comments below. Thanks again Faith! Natalie : )

In the next few weeks I will be moving into new professional territory as I enter into the first formal supervisory relationship wherein I take on the role of supervisor. I say “formal” because over the seven years I have been a board certified music therapist (MT-BC in the United States), I feel as though I have in various contexts informally served as a peer supervisor to colleagues. Therefore, as I enter into this new, more formal supervisory role, I would especially like to thank Natalie and Music Therapy Bento for the opportunity to share a bit of my process as a first time supervisor.

This supervisory experience will be with two graduate level practicum students. While I am excited for the opportunity to do this, I am also nervous about what this will entail in practice. Questions and concerns that arise for me as a first time supervisor are:

• Do I really know enough about being a music therapist that I am qualified to be in a position of supervising student therapists? Essentially this question comes down to, “Am I good enough?” However, when I look at it more deeply from the perspective of a supervisee, I realize that what I am really wondering is, “Can I provide the supervision (in terms of quality) needed by these students at this time in their training?”

• On a purely logistical level, how will providing this supervision fit in with my overall schedule? Between my hospice agency work (through which I will be providing supervision) and varied private practice work, my working week has a certain flexible rigidity to it in that some things can be changed around while others are more fixed. Additionally, I serve in volunteer leadership capacities for several different organizations. How will everybody’s schedule line up so that quality supervision can occur?

• Along with the above question, I have to ask myself if I am I being realistic in what I can do and what I have to offer as a supervisor, or am I biting off more than I can chew? Quality supervision is important, and the opportunity to provide it is not something I take lightly.

• Likewise, I need to ask myself what my true reasons are for agreeing to do this. Are my reasons truly altruistic or is there some unmet ego need involved? While I believe that my reasons are due to a sincere desire to help advance the profession, I also know that unmet ego needs can negatively affect situations. It is important to me that these supervisory relationships be fully based on the supervisee and not my own subconscious ego needs.

• Lastly, what will a hospice practicum experience be like for them? How can I best prepare a student music therapist for hospice work? The practice of hospice music therapy looks different than the practice of music therapy in other healthcare settings. Will they be comfortable in that? If not initially, how can I help them to become more so? As I prepare for this new phase of my career, I find that I have many questions. It will be interesting to discover the answers found along the way. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Faith

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