Guest Blog Series - Being A First Time Supervisor - Part 3

Hi Everyone, today I’m happy to be posting Faith‘s third post in her series on being a first time supervisor. If you’ve missed Faith’s first and second posts, please check them out.

In this piece, Faith raises some very important questions about how the intern/supervisor relationship evolves as the intern progresses through their internship. Also central to her exploration is the issue of how important it is for supervisors to have supervision of supervision. Supervisees can ask the questions Faith raises, and explore possible solutions with their own supervisor. Thanks again Faith for a thought provoking post and such insightful questions – Natalie.

Defining What is Mine, Yours, and Ours

Recently I have come to the halfway point in my supervision work with one of my practicum students. As part of this, I needed to complete a midterm evaluation showing where I believed them to be in their current understanding and practice of music therapy. Doing this was an interesting experience because:

• I had to give honest feedback on areas that could be considered subjective (If contemporary music has taught me one thing, it is that what others consider pleasing may not be pleasing to me and vice versa…) • it made me question what is reasonable to expect a student to know at this point in their music therapy studies • it clearly delineated the different areas in which a prospective music therapy intern must show proficiency or need for growth.

Being a first time music therapy supervisor, the last point was especially significant to me because it reminded me of how much a music therapist needs to know in order to practice competently and ethically. (It can be easy to forget about these things when one has been practicing within a very specific area of healthcare for several years without anyone asking questions about how or why I do things the way I do.) Being reminded of these requirements was helpful because it made me more aware of what I still need to address, as well as contemplate on how I can address those points in order to provide a rich, well-rounded training experience of hospice music therapy.

Yet at the same time, it also makes me wonder how much of the learning experience is my responsibility, how much is the student’s, and how much is our shared, mutual responsibility. For example, am I responsible for defining a patient’s goals to a student when they are charged with conducting an assessment? In this instance, where does the line get drawn between me doing the work outright for them versus my making suggestions so that they can learn from my expertise while also encouraging them to start trusting their own knowledge?

Likewise, how available do I need to be to give additional feedback during the week when we spend an entire day together? Is it reasonable for me to ask that they save their questions from the week until we meet again? At what point is it appropriate for me to direct their questions back to their professors? Lately I have been wondering when my providing responsiveness and feedback ceases to be beneficial to student growth and instead becomes stunting because I start answering the questions that they should be answering for themselves.

I want be an effective supervisor, but at this point in the process and experience, I am left wondering what the balance is between what I am responsible for providing as a supervisor to the student, versus what the student is responsible for providing for themselves as the future professional, versus what is the responsibility of their professors as educators. How are we all to work together in helping foster the growth of music therapy and the development of future music therapists?


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