The Importance of Goals

Many people don’t realize that music therapy is a goal-driven practice. Goals are the purpose, drive, and method behind the madness. Having goals is what sets us apart from the misconception of what some think we do: just “singing to people to make them feel better”. The type of goals we have for our clients also sets us apart from music educators. A music teacher’s objectives may be something like “name the years and composers of the Baroque period”, whereas a music therapist’s goals may be “increase response to verbal cues” or “improve motor functioning skills”. When the goals set by the music therapist are achieved, the MT will then document the progress of the patient/client, thus showing the effectiveness of music therapy interventions.

Goals are not only important in music therapy; they are important to have in life. Think about where you are right now: you are either here because a) you set a goal a few years ago and worked hard to get here, b) are in the process of attaining some goal you are striving for, c) a combination of a and b, or d) you are not here by choice, and are either happy or unhappy about it. Setting goals for ourselves allows us to shape who and what we want to be, and if we don’t have goals, we have no life-purpose.

If you are a music therapist or MT student, you probably already know the value of reaching goals, both personally and in your practice. Internship is HUGE time of growth and goal-setting in a baby music therapist’s journey. One of the purposes of this blog is to document my progress during my internship experience, so I thought I might share with you some personal and professional goals I have for myself. Some of these goals I hope to have accomplished by the end of my internship, and others I hope to have accomplished in the next few years.

By the end of my internship, I hope to:

-Create a “Big Ole Book” filled with activities and categorized by goal-area, population, and activity type.

-Create my own assessment and progress note form.

-Successfully document the effectiveness of my music therapy sessions when I get my own case-load.

-Decide where and when I wanna do grad school.

-Look and apply for jobs.

-Get back down to my “pageant weight”, which is 15 lbs lighter. (This may not seem to have much to do with music therapy, but being healthy and physically fit is a very important part of being a good therapist, and feeling energized and good about yourself is just as important for your client’s well-being as it is your own.)

By this time next year, I hope to:

-Be a Board Certified Music Therapist!

-Have a job somewhere (hopefully working as a music therapist)

-Be applying/auditioning for grad schools.

-Run in some type of marathon.

Within the next few years, I hope to:

-Help the state of Mississippi enact legislation for music therapy licensure.

-Have a music therapy association established in Mississippi.

-Establish a music therapy internship site (because you can never have too many of those!).

-Present at Regional or National conference.

-Have a master’s degree and possibly a doctorate.

-Contribute in some way to a published journal article or research project.

These goals serve as motivators and guidance in my present life choices. Over the years my goals may change and morph into something completely different, but right now the future as I see it is very bright for my career and the field of music therapy. I may not reach all of my goals I set for myself, but that’s ok. The sky is the limit, and that is very exciting! I cannot wait to meet future clients, advocate for music therapy in my state, and further my education and clinical practice.

If you are a student, intern, or even professional, I encourage you to set goals for yourself and create a “treatment plan” for your own life. I also encourage you to document your progress by journaling or blogging, which can be a great tool for self-reflection and even a form of therapy for yourself.

What are some things you would like to accomplish in the next few years? What are some goals in the past that you have already come to achieve? I would love to hear from you!


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