A Self-care Handbook for Undergraduate Music Therapy Students

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Belt, Courtney
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Undergraduate music therapy students may endure a plethora of stressors including moving away from home, adjusting to new living situations, taking general education classes, taking music and music therapy classes, participating in performance ensembles, taking instrument lessons, and forming new relationships. Stress can cause a variety of problems including headaches, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and performance impairment (Baker, 2003). When students are unable to manage the many stressors in their lives, these symptoms may become overwhelming and even debilitating. With the potential accumulation of these symptoms, it seems an emphasis on teaching students appropriate ways to deal with these stressors should be part of the undergraduate experience. Self-care is defined by the author as the use of techniques that encourage self-awareness, induce relaxation, and/or reduce stress which promote holistic health. The author reviewed related articles, projects and books currently existing in the literature, as well as reviewed a variety of self-care techniques in order to determine which should be included in the self-care handbook created for this thesis. This project was developed in part to bring awareness to undergraduate music therapy program directors, professors, and students of the potential benefits of self-care. It was also developed to provide a source of education and prompts for implementation of self-care to these students in a format that is designed specifically for them based on the author’s research and personal experience.