Internships – How does it benefit the undergraduate getting ready to be a professional?

This is my first blog about internships.  As the internship director for our company, this topic has been on my mind as of late because I am working to complete the necessary paperwork for Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC to become a National Roster Internship site for the American Music Therapy Association.  Knowing that good experiences and education can provide keys to success, this mixed methods study sounded interesting when I went to look for resources recently.

I will say that understanding how undergraduates view the internship process was not something I had thought about before.  Internships can vary in length depending on the facility or company hosting the internship.  Students completing their undergraduate or equivalency studies, are required to complete 1200 clinical hours in order to receive the privilege of taking the Certification Board of Music Therapy’s national examination.  Students will often complete between 150 – 180 clinical hours in their undergraduate program with fieldwork supervised by their professors, board certified graduate students or outside professionals.

Dr. Amy Clements-Cortes from Canada evaluated students from the United States using a mixed method study.  She first surveyed a total of 177 pre-professionals then interviewed 44 participants or roughly 25%.  Results showed “that the internship is a valued clinical experience that fosters improvement in the clinical, musical, and personal skills needed to work as a music therapist” (p. 209).  One of the most valuable pieces of information gathered in this study are the recommendations found beginning on page 232.  The researcher highlighted four key suggestions that give those working with the students valuable topics to cover during the internship: improvisation skills to use in the clinical setting, and functional music skills, students need help in counseling and verbal processing, highlighting the challenges experiences in the professional world, and a way for students to stay connected during their internship through the possibility of a chat platform or other means so to reduce isolation.

While the internship may not involve classwork such as research papers, it does involve some self study, readings, actual clinical work, and meetings to give the student an opportunity to experience the professional requirements needed to be a music therapist in today’s work environment.  Thanks to this study, educators and supervisors can use the results and recommendations to enhance the educational experience for students in internship programs.

For more information on music therapy, visit our website at or the American Music Therapy Association’s website at

Stephanie H. Morris, MM, MT-BC

Neurologic Music Therapy Fellow

Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC

Clements-Cortes, A. (2019).  A sequential mixed-method study of pre-professionals’ understanding of the undergraduate music therapy internship.  Journal of Music Therapy, 56(3), 2019, 209-239.  Doi:10.1093/jmt/thz006.