Doing Good Leads to Doing Good at TMS

Posted on 05/18/18 by in Music Therapy


Elizabeth Harris has been a Music Therapy intern at The Music Settlement (TMS) for eight months. She initially found her career path by serving others.

“I found out about music therapy as a career through a mission trip. We traveled to Baden PA, and I was assigned to a senior care facility to keep people company. I met a music therapist there. After I observed one of her groups, I knew this was what I wanted to do. That music therapist ended up becoming my first practicum supervisor when I went to school.”

Elizabeth studied toward her Music Therapy Bachelor of Science degree at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Music therapists need to know how to play many instruments. “Voice was my principal instrument in college, but I started playing piano in first grade and started guitar in middle school,” she said.

To find an internship, Elizabeth googled “cities and music therapy” and through that search, she learned about the new TMS internship opportunity. TMS redesigned its internship program for the 2017-2018 program year after having been inactive since 2010.

“I knew I wanted to be in a city, not a rural area, and I’d never been to Cleveland before. It wasn’t too far away from home, so that was nice. When I came here to visit, I really liked it a lot,” she said.

Her internship interview process was challenging. “There were a lot of different parts: a short test, playing prepared pieces and sight reading, and then the interview portion where I was asked a variety of questions about everything from what is your philosophy of music therapy to situational questions. My interview was with Megan McCausland, TMS Internship and Student Coordinator, and Patty Console, a Supervising Music Therapist, because I was interviewing for the adult track and they would be my supervisors.”

Elizabeth became one of the two Music Therapy interns selected in this first year in the redesigned format and has enjoyed the variety of work. “I’ve worked here with individual clients – an awesome one-on-one, long-term experience. I’d mostly done groups in my practicum, so that was new for me.”

Music therapists at TMS not only see clients on campus, but also serve outreach partners. “I have been running groups at Salvation Army Harbor Light Complex, with people who were formerly incarcerated or who have drug and alcohol addictions. They have a six-week program and they incorporate music therapy. We help the clients with tools that assist in their recovery and changing their life: how to relax, how to emotionally regulate, and how to build community and improve their relationships with the people in their life,” Elizabeth said.

Some of Elizabeth’s clients have stayed with her for the entire term of her internship, and others she sees for six weeks at a time. One of her biggest challenges has been with an outreach contract serving patients in behavioral health at Cleveland Clinic – Lutheran Hospital in Ohio City.

“At the hospital, I see someone for 45 minutes in the hospital and may never see them again. They’re not there very long – if you’re lucky, you see them twice. Being able to say, ’Hello, how are you, what kind of music do you like?’ and then plan the session based on their responses, and then say, ’These are tools that can help you.’ People have been very receptive to it!” Elizabeth said.

Her internship has surprised her regarding her own adaptability. “I work in all these different areas with different populations of people. It’s taught me about how many hats music therapists have to wear, being able to adapt to groups, situations, and people, all with different needs and goals... It’s very exciting!”

Elizabeth has made a big impact during her internship – so much so, that she was recently hired to become a Center for Music Therapy music therapist at TMS. “Every time I think about it I want to cry happy tears. I’ll take over a large portion of the Euclid Schools contract, working with students with developmental disabilities from kindergarten to high school. This is another part of my music therapy brain that I can utilize and learn more things about and bring fresh new ideas to clients that I haven’t had a chance to work with. It’s going to be very different from what I’m doing now, but they have so much joy and so much enthusiasm about music at the school level, so I’m excited to bring music therapy to them.”

She has wise words for the next crop of would-be TMS Music Therapy Interns.

“I would recommend this internship to someone who likes variety: someone who likes being able to go to several different sites and working with lots of different clients. I couldn’t imagine myself at one place 8:00am-5:00pm, doing the same thing every day. I love the variety of working with clients in several places. That’s how TMS works, in general. Music therapists on staff here go to different outreach sites, but also work on-campus with individuals or groups. That’s what I love about The Music Settlement. I really can’t wait to keep going!” she said.


Click here for information about Music Therapy at TMS

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