SKS Music Therapy Blog

    Happy (belated) MT-BCiversary to me!

    I have a few anniversaries I celebrate each year - my husband's and mine (5 years in July!), that of my parents and my in-laws, my siblings and their spouses, my dear friends ... and my MT-BCiversary, of course!

    (Don't worry if that last one's got you scratching your head, I'll explain below!)

    Screenshot of tweet from Stephanie's Twitter account announcing MT-BCiversary

    An MT-BCiversary is a word mashup that simply means the anniversary of my passing my certification exam to become a "Music Therapist - Board Certified" or MT-BC.  I took and passed my exam on April 19th, 2010, which means I recently celebrated my 6th MT-BCiversary! (Time flies when you're having fun, huh?)

    The MT-BC credential is administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists.  In honor of my 6th MT-BCiversary, I thought I'd share a few reasons why I'm proud to hold that credential:

    1. In calling myself a "Board-certified music therapist", I am letting people know that I have completed a high degree of education and clinical training in music therapy.  I am also committing myself to maintaining my certification by completing continuing education every five years.
    2. Similarly, the MT-BC credential differentiates the work myself and other music therapists from that of others.  Clients who select an MT-BC for therapy can rest easy knowing that their therapist has the knowledge and clinical experience to use music - an incredibly powerful treatment tool - with care and caution.
    3. When I call myself an MT-BC, I hold myself to the high standards of the American Music Therapy Association Standards of Clinical Practice and the CBMT Code of Professional Practice, and I align myself with other highly skilled music therapists who do the same.
    4. Lastly, in calling myself an MT-BC, I allow myself to be proud of the music therapist I have become in the last six years.  I also hope and dream about the music therapist I will become in the future as I continue to learn and grow from my wonderful clients!


    If you're a music therapist out there, why are YOU proud of your MT-BC?  When is your MT-BCiversary?  Do share! And if you're not a music therapist, I'd love to know if/why you think selecting a provider with the appropriate credentials is essential from your perspective.  I'd love to hear from you!

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    #SWAMTA16 Recap: The Music in My Heart is for You

    Hi all! I had the pleasure of attending the Southwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association (SWAMTA)'s regional conference last weekend in Austin, Texas! As is the case with many other professions, conferences are a wonderful way to catch up  with colleagues that are old friends, make new connections, and learn from the amazing work others are doing locally.  This conference was no different - I had a wonderful, affirming experience this year!


    Coffee mug with SWAMTA logo(My new favorite coffee mug!)

    In no particular order, here were some of my take-away moments from #SWAMTA16:

    1. Although we call our trade "music therapy", that doesn't mean music must be playing 100% of the time.  There is something to be said for being a silent, peaceful presence for a client when the moment calls for such, especially in the midst of a chaotic environment such as the hospital.
    2. Children with ADHD and other neurological differences such as autism have strengths that are often overlooked when the focus of treatment is on eliminating "problem behaviors".  Many of these strengths (creativity, curiosity, compassion, emotional sensitivity) can be explored and even highlighted in music therapy!
    3. As a music therapist, I often find myself in the position of advocating for the profession of music therapy and for its recognition. While this is important, I was reminded that "we need [state] recognition only so far as it will protect our clients" (quote from music therapist on the Texas State Task Force).  While the panel I attended specifically discussed music therapy state recognition in Texas, music therapists in Louisiana face similar challenges!
    4. The "song cycle" is a process of making a musical timeline of one's life - picking life experiences that shaped you into the person you are today, and capturing the emotions in those moments with a specific song.  When used thoughtfully in music therapy in the right situation, it can help clients identify patterns in their life with the goal of creating lasting change.
    5. There is fascinating research being done on the use of music therapy to address emotion regulation in children.  There is evidence that use of a high/low arousal pattern to structure music therapy sessions (for example, high-energy instrument play while standing, followed by reading a musical book while seated) gives children valuable practice in regulating their body states and their feelings.

    By the way, in case you were wondering, the title of this post ("The Music in My Heart is for You") comes from the lyrics of SWAMTA's official song, the first verse of which goes:

    The music in my heart is for you

    It's the reason for everything I do

    Our common ground of sound is forever fresh and new

    The music in my heart is for you

    I hope you have the music in your heart as you go through your week this week!

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    "Only the Rebels Change the World": Celebrating Down Syndrome

    Happy World Down Syndrome day, friends! I love the idea of a day dedicated to everyone out there who ROCKS that extra chromosome, many of whom I've had the pleasure of making music with as a music therapist.

    In celebration of WDSA, there is a public service announcement circulating featuring the lovely Olivia Wilde. Titled "How do you see me?", this video fights the image of disability by challenging commonly held notions of disability, including helplessness, dependence, and disconnection from others. As I watched it, however, I couldn't help but feel this video also places Olivia Wilde in the "leading lady" role and relegates the real star - AnnaRose (the woman with Down Syndrome that we see at the end) - in the background. I would have loved to see a video where AnnaRose, not Olivia Wilde, was depicted as the joyful participant in her own life.

    Thanks to this article, I viewed a second video that I feel more aptly captures the way we should be celebrating World Down Syndrome Day:

    There are a couple of important things about this video that make it, in my mind, a more powerful advocacy tool than the first video:
    1) This film points out the contrast between what others (his family) believe he is capable of, and what he can actually accomplish.
    2) The boy in this video is portrayed in the same way neurotypical teenagers are often portrayed in the media - skipping class, hanging out with friends, pursuing romantic interests, contemplating tattoos!  In other words, he is portrayed as a teenager because, without a doubt, that's who HE is.
    3) This film was created BY a girl with Down Syndrome, Serena. I love that we get to meet her at the end, and I ALSO love that we meet her after we have watched the video - it removes all expectations for what the video should or should not have been.

    At the end of the video, filmmaker Serena says (in Spanish, with English subtitles) that "only the rebels change the world".  Kudos to the rebels in this film, and the rebels I know who are fighting for inclusion, acceptance and understanding everywhere!

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    Finding Relaxation Music that Works for You

    Good afternoon, all! I was thrilled to present yesterday at a Cancer 101 group sponsored by Cancer Services in Baton Rouge, and one of the things I enjoyed the most was talking about tips for finding the best relaxation music.  Listening to music while practicing breathing, meditation, prayer, or even progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety (and insomnia as well for those who have trouble sleeping!), but the trick can be finding music that perfectly complements those practices.

    Below are some tips from my music therapy training (as well as personal experience) on how to select the perfect relaxation track, as well as a sample of some that I enjoy!

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    #MTAdvocacy and the ISO principle

    SM Advocacy Badge 2012_150x150 In my previous post for 2016's Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month, I shared a guest post from Dr. Dena Register on the three different roles music therapists might find themselves in when advocating for their profession.

    While I definitely agree that awareness of one's strengths and weaknesses is helpful in determining the best way to serve as an advocate, I would also note that (for me at least) these roles are somewhat fluid. My role as an advocate of music therapy changes, depending on the situation, the goal, and the person(s) with whom I'm speaking. And this, my friends, is where the ISO principle comes in.

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