When someone has a birthday, people may joke about feeling (or not feeling) a year older. We joke, because in all reality it’s not a huge switch from the way we felt the day before. Other events, such as a wedding, involve a more immediate change with the actual event. Whether it’s a change of last name or a change of address, it’s often noticeable! 

Somewhere in the continuum between these two examples is the transition from student to professional. At least this has been the case for me personally. I became board-certified at the beginning of last week and started full-time this week as a music therapist. Certainly I know more than I did at the start of classes or even at the beginning of internship! Yet, there’s still an element of feeling like a deer in the headlights when it comes to understanding everything music therapy-wise. No longer am I getting a syllabus and rubric with the expectation of getting those done by a certain date. No longer am I having things spelled out and all I have to do is follow the step-by-step directions. I need to be more independent yet still be flexible to follow guidelines and/or rules as needed. Thankfully, working with music for me is very motivating as is the case with clients. I want to be a self-starter and make schedules for myself and be productive without seeing a letter grade attached to the outcomes. 

The transition from student to professional is not a bad one. In so many ways, school has prepared me for what I am doing. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to apply it directly to where I’m at and not getting stuck in a just-tell-me-what-to-do mode. I am grateful for the great teaching I’ve had to this point and looking forward to working with a team of professionals that is also passionate about music therapy. “We’ll travel along, singing our song, side by side!”

~Lindsay Helmuth, MT-BC  (I guess credentials are an example of an immediate change that takes place after becoming a professional!)