Window to the World May 2021

The timing of this ‘Window to the World’ post is quite fitting given it is the end of semester one here in Melbourne, Australia. This is not only an opportunity to reflect on the wonderful things I have learnt, but also an opportunity to share what I have learnt and experienced in an Australian context. I should preface this my saying that this is one person’s reflection on their own learnings and experiences in Australia. And above all, I can’t speak on behalf of others. At this point in my training I’m about to begin my last semester of my last year before becoming a Registered Music Therapist.

An interesting take away from this current semester is understanding how knowledge develops. I’m noticing more and more the presence of ‘a-ha’ moments. Or these experiences where theoretical knowledge meets clinical practice. It was strange at first, but the more they occur I realise this is how true knowledge is formed. Well so I thought…

By the beginning of first semester most theoretical knowledge is set in stone. The basics of theoretical orientations and music therapy methods and approaches have been explored and perhaps even used in clinical settings by the student. I didn’t know what to expect coming in to my final year. Would I expand on this knowledge? Would I learn about applying it? Well, I was wrong…

And this is my belief of where new knowledge is formed, on the back of ‘challenging’ existing beliefs and finding new ways of approaching things.

My concluding statement is a confusing one. The knowledge I gained this semester has been to unlearn and challenge my existing beliefs about society, culture, being in a ‘helping’ profession and music therapy as a whole. I’m beginning to understand myself and more importantly, understand how my identity can contribute to my therapeutic identity… and above all, what does my identity bring to the therapeutic relationship.

In Australia, whilst on the outside we appear to be thriving as a nation, there are concerns regarding the countries colonial history and the socio-cultural prejudices that still exist today and impact the people we work with as music therapists. Even when looking specifically at the pathway to becoming a music therapist in Australia, you require an undergraduate degree and a high level of instrumental playing in order to even make an application. Learning an instrument at an extra-curricular level and being able to study for the minimum five years at a master’s level to become a music therapist places me in a privileged position. Well what does that mean for clinical practice… Personally, it means I need to think about my position in a ‘helping’ profession and acknowledge that just because I have some specialist training or a certificate it does not make me an expert in the challenges others go through.

I have been exposed this semester to challenging material that sometimes I don’t have answers for. It has made me think in ways I have never thought before. And the biggest teaching lesson this semester is to challenge or ‘unlearn’ the historical beliefs I have been exposed to previously and sit with the discomfort this provides.

I really want to reiterate that in this ‘Window to the World’ post I am sharing the lessons I have learnt in Australia this semester and these are my beliefs based on my own experiences. We all come from different places, walks of life and have experienced different things so our perspectives are also different and unique.

Isaac Lizzit

WFMT Student Delegate for Australia and New Zealand