Discovering What is Next

Since posting about my TEDx talk last month, I have been asking myself a lot lately, “what is next”? I haven’t been thinking about this in existential terms, or even in terms related to my life goals, but instead looking more deeply into my work as a music therapist. It has even been difficult to pinpoint a topic or theme to blog about here over the last few weeks because I feel like my brain has been racing. Being in a graduate program means that with each new lesson I identify fresh goals for myself. Being in a relatively new place of work means the same. Sometimes I find it hard to capture all my ideas and goals before they are immediately replaced by even newer ideas and goals. I end up feeling overloaded with passion and drive to “accomplish“. But to accomplish what?

Clear strategy and leadership solutions

I’ve been thinking a lot about what music therapy development looks like, as far as the stages of the development process. I wanted to identify a name for the stage I feel that I am in at my current hospital in hopes of discovering how much farther I would like to go to reach what I would call “thriving”. In brainstorming some development stages, I came up with this progression:

  1. Initial Implementation & Introductions
  2. Adjusting
  3. Changing & Progressing
  4. Settling & Integrating
  5. Thriving

These are in no way official terminology for music therapy development, but more of an expression of what I have experienced. These stages also don’t necessarily follow in succession and can repeat as often as there are changes and developments within a program; such as including an internship, hiring a new position, changing hours, etc. I also think that Changing & Progressing might alternate repeatedly with Settling & Integrating before ever reaching Thriving.MTT - New Page (1)

What I find really interesting about this process is the second stage of program development, which I have called Adjusting. I’ve been at my current facility for approximately 5 months and music therapy is no longer as shiny and new as it was when I started (a characteristic of Initial Implementation & Introductions). I have repeated many session plans, patients are starting to recognize me as the music therapist, and most of the staff have heard at least half of my music therapy songbook. To put it simply, I am officially a part of ordinary hospital life.

Being an ordinary member of the hospital team is a fantastic thing to be as a music therapist, but what makes this time especially interesting is that haunting question, what is next? What are my next goals? What do I want to accomplish? This is where my brain has been and it certainly has been racing back and forth. When I started, I set specific goals for each of the first 6 months of my new program. I haven’t checked many off, but I’ve been able to look back and see how my goals have now evolved.

It could be easy for music therapists, after achieving the step of Initial Implementation & Introductions to feel accomplished and begin settling.  Creating a music therapy program and advocating for your position as a professional on the interdisciplinary team is no small feat. This is an enormous first step to pursue and achieve. But then I ask myself: how do I move into Changing & Progressing? How do I avoid simply settling become complacent? I think my hospital is Adjusting more to me than I am to it, but now it is my job to challenge my hospital to change and progress with me. What can I do next that will move me along this path towards Thriving?

This is an interesting place to be. I would like to mark off my goals for the program faster and more efficiently than is always possible within a hospital setting. Part of this process is learning who your advocates are, what roadblocks may be in your way, and how you are maneuver your way towards your next path of development. How can you advocate yourself and your profession, proving that what you provide as a team member is worthwhile enough to expand?

Clearly, I have more questions than answers, but that adds to the intrigue of this experience. Let me know if you have thoughts or responses about your experience with these different stages to program development. In the meantime, I will keep attempting to reach Thriving.

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