Five music therapy internship directors working in a wide range of clinical settings gathered around the AMTA-Pro microphone during the 2010 AMTA Conference in Cleveland to share their experiences and insights gained from training many dozens of future board-certified music therapists over the years. The resulting AMTA-Pro podcast – a lively conversation and idea exchange – features experienced clinicians Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC, Christine Neugebauer, MS, MT-BC, LPC, Amber Weldon-Stephens, EdS, MT-BC, Lisa Swanson, MMT, MT-BC, and Ellen Rayfield, LCPC, MT-BC.


MT Internship Directors – Shaping the Future

AMTA-Pro Podcast – March, 2011

— + —

AMTA thanks these five clinicians for joining in the conversation, and salutes all clinical internship directors for helping interns develop skills, concepts, and confidence to make a successful transition from college students to competent music therapy professionals.

Podcast Participants

1. Mary Jane Landaker, MME, MT-BC, Lakemary Center, Inc. Paola (pronounced pay-o-la), Kansas

Lakemary Center, Inc. provides services for persons with developmental and other concerns from birth to age 3, and ages 5 through geriatrics. The music therapy department offers services to children and adolescents, aged 5-22 years, with developmental and psychiatric disorders through the Lakemary Center School, a publicly funded special education program.

2. Christine Neugebauer, MS, MT-BC, LPC, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, Houston, Texas

News story about Christine’s music therapy program:

Children’s Memorial Hermann is a 240-bed hospital dedicated to pediatric and neonatal care.  Music therapy provides individual services to the following clinical areas: Pediatric Intensive-Care Unit, Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, Pediatric Dialysis Unit, Intermediate Medical Unit, Neonatal Special Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the General Medical/Surgical Recovery Units. Music therapy helps children with various diagnoses including burns, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, renal disease, mitochondrial disease and other genetic disorders. Because CMHH has a level 1 pediatric trauma center, many children receiving music therapy have sustained either accidental or non-accidental traumas including injuries from motor vehicle accidents, gun shot wounds, and physical abuse. Music therapy referrals come from the child life specialists, hospital chaplains, nurses, rehabilitation therapists, physicians, and the psychiatry team.

3. Amber Weldon-Stephens, EdS, MT-BC, Fulton County School System, Atlanta Georgia

The music therapy program in the Fulton County School system is one of the largest of its kind in the nation, with12 music therapists on staff serving 62 public schools, elementary through high school, and serve over 1800 students with disabilities a week. We have trained almost 60 interns in the past 12 years.

4. Elisabeth (Lisa) J. Swanson, MMT, MT-BC is Internship Director at Orchard Manor in Lancaster, WI

Orchard Manor is a county facility with two distinct units:  ICF-MR for adults with developmental disabilities and SNF for elderly needing skilled nursing care. Lisa had the opportunity to introduce music therapy to Southwest Wisconsin 20 years ago and the program continues to grow.  Orchard Manor has had an internship for almost 12 years.  There are now 4 past music therapists or interns living in the area, two of whom work at Orchard Manor.

5. Ellen Rayfield, LCPC, MT-BC recently retired from adult psychiatric in-patient care after 30 years of clinical experience at the UIC Medical Center. She is currently in part time private music therapy practice in the Chicago area.

The internship program at UIC Medical Center started in 1973 at the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute in Chicago, Illinois. Ellen became an internship supervisor around 1980 and the internship director around 1994. She supervised and trained about 40 interns in those years. At her retirement several years ago, the  UIC Medical Center internship program trained 4 interns per year with a student starting every 3 months. Interviews and applications were taken 2 times per year.  The internship was mostly on the inpatient psychiatric unit at UIC Medical Center with adolescents and adults, and interns had opportunities each week to see patients on pediatrics, rehab, oncology, and general medicine. The internship is currently inactive.

Anecdotes and Experiences in the Clinic

The five clinical internship directors featured in this podcast were encouraged to share additional informal thoughts for this text segment of their podcast.

Mary Jane Landaker wrote about some ongoing traditions that have built connections and teamwork among interns: “My interns have initiated several traditions over the years that I have marveled at during their time with me. One tradition is the ‘crowning of the senior intern.’ Most of my interns have overlapped at least one other intern. When the senior intern graduates from the internship, my interns follow through on a ceremony where the junior intern receives a crown (supplied by me) and the good rolling chair for the remainder of his/her internship. They have originated traditions of giving their new junior interns silly pens. These traditions create a link between the interns that have been there before and those that are coming into the internship.”
Mary Jane also reminds us of a valuable resource through AMTA: “Remember that the Association Internship Approval Committe (AIAC) oversees all National Roster Internships affiliated with AMTA and that representatives are available to help internship directors and supervisors as well as music therapy interns.”

Christine Neugebauer reflects on her own internship experience: “I realize how significantly my training impacted my career as a music therapist today. I was fortunate to have been accepted to a competitive program in a medical setting that truly matched my passion for medical music therapy. Although I completed my internship over 18 years ago, I still have vivid memories of that experience both professionally and personally. Now as an internship director, I have the privilege of guiding the future of new music therapy professionals into a career that is continuously growing and evolving. Having interns forces me to keep current about new research, issues, and techniques related to our profession while also rejuvenating my own enthusiasm due to the contagious motivation and optimism emitted from these eager students. Each intern brings with him/her a different perspective, life experience, and passion, making the internship experience truly unique for each student. I am fortunate to work in a facility that shares my value of quality clinical training for music therapy, a field that, I believe, is on the cutting edge of health care and wellness.”

As we were preparing this AMTA-Pro podcast for launch on the AMTA website, Amber Weldon-Stephens sent informal e-mail update, not actually intended for inclusion in this text segment. Her message is quoted here to provide some insight into the value of music therapy in the Fulton County schools. Amber wrote, “I’m in the middle of a huge Exceptional Children’s Show with about 100 kids performing. Seventy of those kids have moderate, severe or profound intellectual disabilities. Today was the first day of the show and the kids were amazing! Tons of tears of joy as their parents watched them shine. My interns were amazed at the therapeutic benefits of performing with our students! The children came alive and really worked the audience. We did a number with “Defying Gravity” from The Wiz with a class of children in wheelchairs. We had them out of their chairs with physical and occupational therapists assisting them in walking. The kids were in all white, the therapists in black, and we black lighted the entire stage, AMAZING!!”

Lisa Swanson wrote about a creative solution developed for housing interns for their 6-month stay in a small town. “Lancaster is a rural town of 4000, so housing is limited. We solved this problem by asking community volunteers to house our interns, inviting them into their homes for six months. The interns talk with their hosts about music therapy, of course, and they join churches, participate in community bands, and attend community events – a great way to spread the word about music therapy! Interns have even been invited to give presentations to local organizations. It is an unexpected bonus in advocacy, supporting the growing role of music therapy in our health care system.  Plus we have graduated 30 interns who now have a personal tie to rural Southwest Wisconsin!”

Lisa also wanted to include a note of thanks to two music therapists who have provided valuable resources and assistance with the music therapy internship program at Orchard Manor: “Many thanks to Laurie Farnan for her many articles and resources as well as personal sharing of information which helped us develop this internship program.  I also want to thank Sharon Boyle for her tremendous work in setting up this internship program and helping me initiate the first few rounds of interns.”

Ellen Rayfield reflects on over thirty years of supervising music therapy interns: “The best thing about being an internship supervisor and director was the energy and creativity the students brought to our program. Having two interns at once gave them peers to relate to and helped them become more independent as they progressed through their internship. When the intern reached the three-month mark in their training, they were saying goodbye to their ‘senior’ intern and welcoming the new ‘junior’ intern. It was at that point that the intern was confronted with just how much they had learned in 3 months. Most were very worried about this transition as they had come to depend on their peer for support. When the newbie showed up, just as nervous as they had been 3 months before, they always realized that it was going to be OK. I had interns from various schools and different parts of the country, many dealing with challenges in living situations and finances, but they all grew and developed into professional music therapists by the end of six months. I think I learned more from them than they did from me, and that is why I continued to do this important work for over three decades. I miss the interns and their ability to ‘keep me on my toes’ in my skills as a supervisor and music therapist. I cherish memories and stories from interns over the years who became excited about their chosen profession and inspired by the progress they could see in their clients.”