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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.


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.


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.


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.

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