My name is Ricardo Hurtado. I am a dad, a husband, a business owner and a music therapy intern from the University of Georgia. I started my internship program at Therabeat back in January. Before my internship, I only had the experience of implementing music therapy interventions during my clinical hours at UGA. These were mostly group-based music therapy sessions conducted under the supervision of a certified music therapist with different populations including: special needs children and adolescents, substance abuse adults, geriatric patients, amongst others. Although this gave me the initial experience needed for the internship phase of my career, it was when I started implementing a combination of one-on-one and group-based music therapy interventions at Therabeat that I got to really grasp what music therapy is all about and the "mechanism" that makes it work so efficiently in patients.
At Therabeat, music therapy is provided to a variety of populations, where a broad spectrum of levels of development and functioning is part of the ongoing daily treatments. Furthermore, it is when I am face-to-face with the patient conducting an intervention, that I come to realize that my music skills and the therapeutic knowledge I gained in school, though critically important, are not enough for success. To procure a goal-achieving therapeutic experience for the patient, it is also of essence that the therapist equip his/her self with a combination of knowing the patient with a holistic approach and preparing a proper individualized music therapy session.
It is not enough to know your patient's diagnosis and level of functioning to prepare your therapy session plan. I learned that I also needed to examine and consider the patient's character and behaviors, learning strengths and weakness, motivators and triggers, preferences, sensory tolerance, relevant daily living experiences, amongst other things. For example, in one particular case, I had prepared a music therapy intervention that was structured to strengthen the patient's understanding of the names and sequence of the days of the week. I prepared some visuals to go along with the song. When I conducted the intervention, I noticed that the patient lost interest soon after I started it. However, my goal was to keep the patient engaged throughout the intervention. My supervisor suggested I use specific visuals for each day of the week that would represent something personal to the patient. So, I discussed with the patient's mother, and inquired about the activities the patient usually does during the week. For instance, I found out that the patient did speech therapy on Mondays and on Wednesday the patient did music therapy. During the other week days, the patient just had regular school day. And, during the weekend, the patient just had family time. So, I did new visuals with figures that would represent these activities. I tried the intervention with the patient the next week, and it worked perfectly! The patient engaged and participated with enthusiasm throughout the entire intervention.
Providing one-on-one music therapy sessions has been an exciting and challenging learning process for me so far. Music therapy is beneficial to patients but it is necessary that all aspects of therapy and treatment are taken into consideration and are carefully individualized for each patient. I am very fortunate and grateful for the opportunity that Therabeat provides for me. Working with the patients and families has allowed me to grow and prepare myself in this amazing profession.