lightbulb shape with dark connecting end, bulb filled with sections (shaped as puzzle pieces) representing different areas of life. Sections contain one of the following: a cloud, a gear wheel, the Earth, a nondescript person, a computer monitor, a plus sign, and a tablet/smartphone outline.

Integral Learning

Lessons translate from one area to another. What we know in one setting can inform the other areas of life. This is also true in clinical practice.

Star Center logo with a shoot star

Here at STAR we have the privilege to work with a variety of populations. There are 4 full-time music therapists providing services to over 600 individuals weekly in classrooms, nursing facilities, drug and alcohol recovery centers, hospital units, day centers, and treatment rooms. In addition there are 2-3 interns per year who cycle through our program for a 6-month intensive introduction to the profession.  Through the eyes of these interns I’ve come to understand how broad yet relatable each different session can be. 

Within the field of Music Therapy are a variety of approaches. As noted above, we work with a variety of populations here in West Tennessee and we can see how certain approaches benefit our clients differently. Integral Thinking in Music Therapy (ITMT) by Kenneth Bruscia speaks of integrating theoretical approaches within one session. Music functions similarly across humanity. When we learn how to apply music in a situation to affect change, we can see the potential of that same application of music to affect change in another situation or setting. This might look like incorporating improvisation into a session focusing on behavior management while using an external rhythm to maintain self-regulation. Investigating these various approaches and their applications in sessions has actually caused me to see how clinical practices relate to other areas of life.

Network of silhouttes, various people each in his/her/their own circle, connected by black lines, all eventually connecting to central larger silhouette of an individual.

If we are already considering integrating approaches within sessions, is it possible to integrate learning across various life settings?

What I learn about people, processes, and the potential for change can apply across multiple areas of life. Though the contexts are different, what I learn from clinical practice about change taking time and effort can help me better set goals in the workplace. That grace can extend to friendship as well. In reverse, seeing how a friend plans a wedding can help me relate to the broad scope of a treatment plan and how to break up an insurmountable goal into tangible, bite-size target objectives. Finding these analogies to help interns relate has led to a personal revelation for me of the integration and relatability of various aspects of life.

View of wooden table at a beach with sunset over the water in the background, one calm wave. Pencil on white notebook with white mug next to it on table.

Can you think of a life lesson you have learned in one area that also applied to another area of your life? How might this integral learning style change your outlook at your workplace and in your community?

If you work in a clinical setting, do you see similarities and analogies of treatment planning with other life events and processes? Comment below.


About the Author : Chrissy Watson

Chrissy Watson is the Manager of Music Therapy and Clinical Internship Director at Star Center, Inc. A graduate of the University of Kansas, Chrissy became a board-certified music therapist in 2007 following her internship at The Institute for Research and Rehabilitation in Houston, TX. For the last 10 years, Chrissy has enjoyed working with a variety of populations in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Since coming to Star in 2012, Chrissy has facilitated the growth of the department to 4 full-time staff and continues to oversee the supervision of interns who come to Jackson from around the country. With a passion for forwarding the profession of Music Therapy through research, advocacy, and training of the next generation of therapists, Chrissy completed certification in Neurologic Music Therapy in 2014, is currently working to complete her Master of Music Therapy degree from Colorado State University, and serves on the TN State Task Force, the national Association Internship Approval Committee (AIAC), and continues to present at both regional and national conferences. Outside of work, Chrissy is fanatical about church, baking, reading, theater, and KU basketball and secretly hopes for snow in the middle of summer.

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