“Note by Note” – Developing a Supervision Framework for Music Therapists

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image of Australian music therapist, Dr. Jeannette Kenelly

Music therapists practicing in Australia seek supervision to support their professional practice and the maintenance of competencies. Best practice supervision guidelines for music therapists across the globe are limited and not always informed by an evidence base.

This paper will present the history behind the development of a supervision framework for music therapists. Current evidence supports the importance and the need for professional supervision in music therapy as a way of addressing and maintaining accountability and best practice. Integrated findings demonstrate there are significant discrepancies between the importance of supervision presented in the Australian Music Therapy Association’s (AMTA™) guidelines and what occurs in practice. In 2015 a submission was made to the Board of AMTA™ outlining and advocating for the development of an evidence-based supervision framework and guidelines to support supervision practice for Australian-based RMTs. Following this submission, a working party was formed to begin this work. The framework presented in this paper is the result of consultation with RMTs across Australia (including sessions from the AMTA™’s Professional Development Seminars, data collected from AMTA™’s 2016 Workforce Census, online discussion forums, and a comprehensive review of available literature (including existing supervision frameworks and guidelines from music therapy and other relevant organizations both locally and internationally).

This presentation will outline the process involved in the creation of this framework including considerations for policy development in supervision for music therapists practicing internationally.

Presenter Biographies:

Jeanette Kennelly, PhD, RMT

Jeanette Kennelly is a highly experienced music therapist, academic lecturer, and professional supervisor who has worked across a range of pediatric clinical areas since 1995. She has a strong belief in the transformative medium of music as a way of creating meaningful connections between therapist and client, teacher and student, and supervisor/supervisee.

Jeanette was the inaugural Senior music therapist at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane between 1995 and 2009 and an academic lecturer/tutor in music therapy at the University of Queensland between 2003 and 2015. She currently works as the Clinical Lead in music therapy at the Qld Children’s Hospital, with young children and families at Grow Medical Clinic (Highgate Hill), and runs a private business called Inspiravision. Specializing in the fields of pediatric neuro-rehabilitation and professional supervision, Jeanette has presented widely on these topics and is published in a variety of music therapy and non-music therapy-specific refereed journals and books. She completed her PhD on the topic of professional supervision for Australian-based music therapists and is a recipient of the 2013 Dean’s award for Research Higher Degree Excellence (University of Queensland).

Natalie Jack, MMHSci, RMT, MTA

Natalie has been a music therapist for 22 years and has professional interests in supervision, ethics, and mental health. She holds a Master’s in Mental Health Science, leads a team of music therapists in a public hospital service in Melbourne, Australia, and is the director of a business that provides supervision and supervisor training to health professionals. Natalie has been active in professional service throughout her career and is the immediate past president of the Australian Clinical Supervision Association. Natalie has completed contract work in policy development, social media management, and project management for the Australian Music Therapy Association.

Beth Dun, RMT

Beth was the inaugural music therapist at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne (RCH) in 1991. At this time, RCH was the only pediatric hospital in Australia to employ a music therapist. Over the past 30 years, she has expanded the music therapy program to include eight clinical specialists. Beth is currently the Manager of the Child Life Therapy and Music Therapy department at RCH, and has both managerial and supervision responsibilities within this department of 27.  Beth has been involved in the supervision of over 160 music therapy students at RCH and is widely respected for her extensive knowledge of pediatric settings, and curious and empathetic approach to student supervision. She was the coordinator of clinical placements for music therapy students at RCH for over 25 years. Beth’s pioneering work in pediatric music therapy in Australia has been published in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters. She has also presented internationally and nationally on her work.