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Guest Blog Series - Being A First Time Supervisor - Part 4

Hi Everyone, today I am really pleased to be able to bring you the final part of our series with Faith, a US music therapist working in palliative care. In this post Faith shares with us her learnings and her discoveries as a first time supervisor. I would like to thank Faith for her honesty and valuable insight throughout this series, it was a pleasure to have you here. If you’ve missed the previous articles in this series, here they are – Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Both Faith and I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts, please comment below – Nat

Developing a Supervision Style and Reflecting Upon the Process!

It has been a few months since I completed my first experience as a music therapy supervisor. Life being what it is (ie- always in motion), I have needed the time in order to begin processing and integrating within myself and my work the things that I learned from supervising music therapy practicum students. As I have written about in previous articles here, providing this type of supervision has been just as educational for me as it was for them, because it required me to question and clarify my understanding of music therapy in a hospice setting, as well as at times identify what were realistic expectations for me to have of a practicum student. !

Now that some time has passed since I last provided a formal supervision session, I have been able to start reflecting more upon my supervision style and the supervision process, in general.! In terms of my supervision style, it is similar to my style as a therapist: human-centered, reflective, and guided gently by me. I am a firm believer in our “basic goodness” as human beings by presuming the wholeness and competence of the people with whom I work. As well I tend to trust the process initiated by my client/supervisee, as opposed to my rigidly holding on to a set plan or agenda. !

Part of this lack of overt directedness may also be influenced by the limited time we had to work together. If I were supervising internship students, I imagine that I would be more directive in terms of pointing out and making sure that important components related to the nitty-gritty details of being a professional music therapist were addressed over the course of our work together. However, in this practicum setting, the goals were primarily to provide students with access to real life clinical experiences prior to entering internship, and to help them feel more comfortable with working in a hospice setting.!

Ideally, I would like to incorporate music-making as part of the supervision experience, but the realities of this particular situation did not allow for that. However, in hindsight, I can see how it would be especially helpful for a student music therapist and myself to engage in making music together outside of the therapeutic setting, where addressing a client’s needs is our priority. This also brings up feelings of vulnerability- particularly for a student who may be still struggling to feel confident in their musical expression(s). I imagine that some sense of vulnerability could still exist if one were providing supervision to a colleague, as it could bring up feelings of judgment, nervousness, or insecurity in both supervisor and supervisee.!

All in all, supervising music therapy practicum students was a positive experience. It remains to be seen if future opportunities will present themselves for me to serve in this capacity again, but I am open to the possibilities. In the meantime, I am going to make the most that I can out of my own peer supervision groups. The support I have received from peers in these various closed groups has been crucial as I navigate into this next phase of my career.!

Thank you again for reading about my experience as a first time music therapy supervisor. I feel much gratitude to Natalie for providing me with the opportunity to share my story with your community!

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