Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meet Julia Lopez-Kaley -- Completing Internship and Looking to the Future

Julia Lopez-Kaley grew up in St. Joseph, MN, and moved to Milwaukee, WI, when she was 10. She is a woman who encompasses compassion and service to others. She spent a semester prior to her internship volunteering for the Sisters of Providence and spent several Spring Breaks assisting those affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and working in a soup kitchen/shelter in New York City. While a student on campus, she was a Resident Advisor, Vice-President of Music Therapy Club, and won the Zapapas Servant Leadership Award as a junior. She took time from her busy schedule to respond to a few questions.

Where are you completing your internship this summer? What is unique about this music therapy internship experience?
I am completing my internship at Finger Lakes DDSO in Newark, New York, a New York State facility serving adults 21 and older with developmental and intellectual disabilities. My caseload primarily consists of individual and 2:1 therapy sessions at a Day Habilitation facility in Newark and Geneva, New York. I have been learning how to work under an improvisational music therapy approach, which is based on the Nordoff-Robbins Model of Creative Music Therapy and humanistic psychology. In each session, a wide variety of music experiences are presented to the client(s) to aid in sensorimotor, cognitive, communication, and/or affective/emotional development.

How do you feel you have developed and grown since starting the SMWC Music
Therapy program?

The amount that I have developed and grown since starting the SMWC music therapy program is completely immeasurable. When I think back to my freshman year of college, I don’t think “that person” could have guessed how much she would change and grow. The music therapy program at The Woods, the professors, and the entire experience completely transformed me. My confidence has grown, my skill set, my understanding, my awareness, openness, and acceptance of myself and of others. The music therapy program truly guided me down the path to start becoming the music therapist I am striving to be in the near future.

How do you feel you were prepared for your internship by the SMWC Music Therapy program?
Specifically, the use of improvisation and the support and encouragement to grow musically, clinically, and personally prepared me for my internship. Because I am learning how to work using clinical improvisation at my internship, the improvisation class at The Woods and the close relationships with my professors helped me tremendously, both as a musician and as a growing therapist. I may not have realized my love for the Creative Music Therapy model without the culture of clinical music improvisation and constant musical support. I feel that my experiences (both in the classroom and outside of it) and the support of the professors prepared me clinically and personally for my internship, as well as for what is to come when I am finished.

Why did you choose music therapy, and specifically the SMWC Music Therapy program?
It started with one of the simplest and most common responses: "I want to use music to help people." When considering careers, I could not imagine choosing a career that did not include music, yet I did not want to teach it and I did not want to perform for a living. Music therapy just fit the description of what I wanted in a career. Though what I wanted continued to change and transform as my understanding grew, the core passion for using music as the medium for change and growth always remained very strong and was nurtured and strengthened by all the music professors.

What do you feel are the greatest strengths of the SMWC Music Therapy program?
I chose the SMWC Music Therapy program because I connected to the professors and the campus, and I was attracted to the idea that I would be given the opportunity to observe in a clinical setting as early as the second semester of my freshman year. I knew that I would be part of a community that held similar values as I did and that I would receive close guidance and attention. I felt the many strengths of the SMWC Music Therapy program and the entire department when I auditioned and interviewed. I felt the warmth and friendliness of the professors, and I trusted them, right from the beginning.

I went to a large high school outside of Milwaukee and always thought that I would attend a large state college after high school. Before setting foot on the grounds of The Woods, I thought, "A women's college (smaller than my high school graduating class) in the middle of the woods?! Never." But when I drove onto the campus the first time and met the music professors, all of that changed completely. I fell in love with the beauty and peacefulness of The Woods and the friendliness of its students and professors, and knew by the end of my two-day visit that it was the place for me. I think that my years at The Woods, though challenging at times, were some of the best of my life. I now consider it my home and the wonderful people that I have met part of my family. In the end, it just felt right to me, and I have never regretted my choice.

How do you feel now that you're about to head into the music therapy
professional world? What are your goals for your future now that you've
completed your education/training at SMWC?

I am excited that I will finally have the chance to use the skills I have acquired to support and aid in the change and growth of others. With change comes anxiety, so I am definitely feeling that too. I hope to get my master's degree within the next 5 years, and my dream would be to complete Nordoff-Robbins training. Ultimately, I don't know where I will end up 5 or 10 years from now, but I continue to strive to be open to change, growth, and the many professional possibilities that are out there.