let go of my clients for a little while . I spent the time playing guitar , working on songwriting , and going to therapy ( all of which seems rather cliche in retrospect ). At the end of the summer I was ready to get back to work . I still felt a bit unsteady , but I needed to know my clients could survive without me . They did . Probably more importantly , I had survived without them .
My own relief notwithstanding , I ’ ve been acutely aware , for years , of how many of us do give up and leave music therapy . Supervision helped me to keep being a music therapist , but what would it have taken for other music therapists to stay the course ?
The music therapy landscape has changed so much since I was a new clinician ! So many young music therapists are in business for themselves these days . Although lots of us still work for facilities , places like mine - state-run institutions - are mercifully closing and most services are happening in the community .
We have way more credibility now . People don ’ t say “ whaaaat ?” even half as often when I tell them I ’ m a music therapist . We have a lot more research to back us up . Music therapy programs have grown significantly ( when I graduated in 1987 I was the only undergraduate left out of the five of us who started in the program at Temple University ). But we still can ’ t provide music therapy to everyone who wants or needs it ( at least not in the United States ).
Maybe it ’ s a good thing some people leave the field . I know I didn ’ t think it was a good thing when Judy left , not just because she ’ s my friend , but also because she was a good clinician . We need to spend some time looking at ourselves and wondering : why do so many of us leave ? What are music therapists facing ( or not facing ) when they ’ re trying to decide whether or not to stay in this profession ?
The authors who generously shared their stories in this issue of Music Therapy Clinician work hard to find ways to articulate their experiences , their doubts , their fears , even their shame . They make it clear : nobody leaves music therapy easily . I am grateful to each contributor for wrestling with their profound discomfort and allowing us , as readers , to bare witness , to relate , to reflect and perhaps to feel acknowledged as we confront our own uncertainties .
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