Friday, July 21, 2017

Guest Post: My First #MusicTherapy Conference #AMTA14

I’ve been attending music therapy conferences since 1991, and I wanted to get the perspective of someone who is new to attending music therapy conferences. I am thrilled that Erin Lunde of Sound Matters Music Therapy  agreed to write this guest post on her first American Music Therapy Association Conference. Please visit her website!

I’ll post my conference recap soon.

This year marks the first time I’ve ever attended a national conference. I’ve been a board-certified music therapist since 2011, but alas, I have not, until now, gotten organized enough to plan for and attend a national conference. I’ve been to two regional conferences and a few state conferences, but this particular experience was much different than those.

I am a music therapist in private practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The reason I chose to get myself down to Louisville, Kentucky for this conference has a lot to do with the fact that I need to feel more connected to the field and other professionals out there; I don’t work alongside anyone at this point in my career. Also, being a mother to a young son, I thought my little family might have fun taking a road trip down to Kentucky for a few days.

I attempted to plan out my conference in advance. As it happened, I looked at the schedule the morning of, and circled what looked most interesting to me. I chose presentations given by people I know personally, people I’d like to meet, and about topics that inspired me.

Given that this is the first national conference experience I had, I knew I would over-extend myself by going to a presentation in every concurrent session available. I knew that I needed to get as much information as I could, and that in the future, when I knew more people in the national arena, I might spend more time connecting.

Though we made it to Louisville early enough to attend the opening session, I simply did not have the energy to do it. Instead, I tried some bourbon.

At 7:30 Friday morning, I attended “Building Inner Strength to Provide Outer Support: Tips for Avoiding Burnout,” given by Jillian Hicks, MA, MT-BC and Jessica Western, MT-BC. I know Jillian really well. She and I attended Marylhurst University together in Portland, Oregon. I also attended “Music Therapy and Attachment Relationships Across the Lifespan” (Pasiali, PhD, MT-BC), the Music Therapy Business Owners’ Meeting, “Presuming Competence in Our Clients,” (Shiloh, MT-BC; LaGasse, PhD, MT-BC; and DePriest, MT-BC), and “Current Practices and Challenges for Music Therapy with Adults with Developmental/Intellectual Disabilities” (Rayfield, LCPC; Schwartzberg, MEd, MT-BC). There were several opportunities to play music with other people at the end of the night. I’d brought my violin with me, but decided against it so that I could spend some time with the family back at the hotel.

Saturday morning could have begun with the Great Lakes Regional Meeting, but that meeting went on without me. I did make it to “Client and Therapist Resistances in Music Psychotherapy” (Gardstrom, PhD, MT-BC), “The 3 Must-Haves for a Successful Heart-Based Business” (Fulton, MM, MT-BC), “Bridging Humanistic and Music-Centered Thinking with Traditional Treatment Planning” (Sorel, DA, LCAT, MT-BC), and “Coping Skills for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: An Art & Music Therapy Approach” (Hoyle, MMT, MT-BC; Bazis, MS, ATR). Shoved between all of the sessions, I met with a couple of people whom I’d never seen in person or haven’t seen in years. I was happy to be a part of Janice Lindstrom’s radio show on Saturday afternoon!

The only presentation I attended on Sunday was “Why YOU are Irreplaceable: HOW You Can Impact the Future of Music Therapy,” given by Michelle Erfurt, MT-BC and Rachel See, MA, MT-BC. I believe I made a plan to write a book in the hour that the presentation lasted, but I have not made any progess on that. Following this presentation, I collected my certificate of attendance as well as my family and drove back to Minneapolis.

As I expected, I was filled with ideas and excitement and support. As I expected, I was tired for days. As I expected, I have already planned to attend next year’s conference. What I didn’t exactly expect about the experience was that I was reminded how much there is about music therapy that I have yet to learn. There are so many instruments and techniques and people and courses that are interesting. I can only hope that with each year, I will find ways to learn those instruments and techniques, and maybe most importantly, to meet the people.