A collection of thoughts by BHMA Music Therapists:
Ben Rosenthal, Adrienne Salmon and Nora Cruz
What is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy involves using music interventions in a clinical and evidence-based manner to help individuals achieve their unique goals within a therapeutic relationship. This is done by a qualified professional who has undergone a recognized music therapy program. Music therapy interventions have the ability to address a wide range of healthcare and educational objectives that can greatly impact an individual's well-being. It has the potential to promote overall wellness, effectively manage stress, alleviate pain, provide a means of expressing emotions, enhance memory, improve communication skills, and even contribute to physical rehabilitation. The power of music therapy extends beyond these examples, as it encompasses a diverse range of potential positive outcomes. Through the skillful application of music interventions, music therapy can truly make a profound difference in a person's life.
What are we doing at BHMA in Music Therapy? What is the goal of music therapy at BHMA?
At Berkshire Hills, we employ music therapy in both group and individual settings to effectively target and address the unique needs of our participants. Our approach is guided by the goals and objectives established by our highly skilled and experienced music therapists who lead the sessions. These goals may encompass a wide range of outcomes, such as enhancing social and communication skills, gross and fine motor skills, facilitating emotional expression, or any other area that would be beneficial to the individual(s) involved. By tailoring our music therapy interventions to suit specific needs, we strive to create a supportive and transformative environment for our participants.
Why is music therapy helpful for our participants?
It offers our participants a secure environment for unhindered exploration of diverse developmental needs, free from judgment and detached from performance-based expectations. This nurturing space is primarily oriented towards aligning with individual goals, fostering personal growth, rather than being solely focused on showcasing a performance.
What relationships do we have with area colleges for music therapy internships?
We have established strategic partnerships with esteemed institutions such as Berklee College of Music, Anna Maria College, Westfield State University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College to facilitate practicum and internship opportunities in the field of music therapy. These collaborations enable students to gain invaluable hands-on experience and professional development within our organization.
Quotes from practicum or internship students and university staff:
“Practicum at BHMA was one of the most eye-opening and educational experiences I’ve had the pleasure being a part of! Not only getting to know the clients, supervisors, staff, etc. but the feedback and encouragement provided from everyone made it feel inviting, welcoming, and warm every Friday I was there. It’s a strong intertwined community and you can feel that when you’re there. It was an incredible learning process and opportunity overall that shaped me as an aspiring music therapist that I will appreciate and hold close to me as I continue my own journey. Everyone at BHMA was always lively, supportive, kind, and beautifully unique!”-Alianna LeClair, Practicum Student from Westfield State University
"BHMA was my first assigned practicum placement as a music therapy student. Going in, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to a music academy with a reputation of such highly holistic and individualized education and support for every student, and I was anxious how I would be received. My first day, all that anxiety went away as I was warmly accepted by my group and staff.
My supervisors, Ben and Adrienne, were very accommodating to my needs and supported my growth as a music therapy student with patience and concision. We always used our reflection time to go over any questions I might have-- and trust me, I typically had plenty of questions about any and everything related to the session and assignments.
Our fun group was kind, witty, quirky, caring, and patient towards me, and we connected very quickly. The people I met treated me with respect and allowed me to be myself and learn practical skills I'll need as a clinician. To be honest, I did not feel the need to mask as much as usual around my music therapy group, and that says a lot.
I was nervous to meet the members of my group, as I had heard about their stellar reputation as musicians and feared that I simply wouldn't be able to match their skills. While I quickly learned that there is no such thing as "worse" or "better," but how much passion and intention there is to your music that matters, I still have ways to go on my piano playing. The beauty of it as a music therapy group was that we all brought in our own strengths to lift up one another and, together, our sound was truly organic and amazing.
The work being done at BHMA is incredibly important for the I/DD community and every talented musician within it. Having the opportunity to learn from this institution has had a lasting impact on my life and shaped me to strive to create spaces that allow people to feel welcome and confident in their musicianship and celebrate our differences." – Seth Ward, Practicum Student from Westfield State University
“Working at BHMA brought me such joy. The learning environment created by staff members was absolutely amazing and I was never afraid to take a risk because I knew someone would always be there for me. The community at BHMA is absolutely amazing and there is nothing like it anywhere else I’ve ever worked. Both of my supervisors were supportive and thoughtful and took the time to create individualized goals for me to flourish as a budding music therapist. I can’t wait to return in the fall to do my internship.” Tessa Cacioppo, Practicum Student from Westfield State University
“Since the Fall of 2022, music therapy majors from Westfield State University have been joining BHMA to complete their Music Therapy Practicum and Internship experiences. Under the mentorship of the music therapy team at BHMA, these music therapists-in-training share their musicianship and knowledge by co-leading music therapy groups with BHMA students. They practice all aspects of the music therapy process, from planning and preparing to leading to writing documentation. Throughout the semester, Westfield students learn to work with BHMA students in a music-centered and collaborative way as they tailor music experiences to the group members, deepen therapeutic relationships, and help BHMA students work towards their own goals for leaning and well-being. Coming to BHMA is always a highlight for Westfield students - they’ve come away feeling part of the rich artistic community at BHMA.” – Dr. Tim Honig, Assistant Professor of Music Therapy at Westfield State University
Quotes from BHMA Music Therapy Groups:
Question asked: “What do you like most about being in a music therapy group at BHMA?” Alexandra: “Hanging out with my group because they are so awesome, and I love it and you guys are so nice and so wonderful and so sweet and so kind and so thoughtful.”
Riley: “Sharing my feelings in a musical way and being with friends.”
Michael: “The good news number!”
Ethan: “I just like hanging out with some good friends and getting to play random songs once in a while.”
We look forward to welcoming a new group of music therapy interns this year!