A reflection on symposium: Music Therapy and Self-Care: Developing Resilience

Although I attended all the Berklee music therapy symposiums during the last five years as a student, it was delightful to join this well-crafted workshop on Music Therapy and Self-care, as a board-certified music therapist. :) Yes. I am always "hungry" for growth.


Through research, theories, panel discussions, and experiential activities, presenter Ami Kunimura cleared up the common misconceptions of self-care, helped the participants to create their own ten self-care anchors, and opened up an honest dialogue with "the ambassador of music."

I have gained clarity on my true purpose for self-care, which is to live a life full of joy, choices, love, creativity, and freedom. I am determined to keep upgrading my self-care skills. I highly recommend Ami's offerings on music therapy and self-care.


From students in their first semester to professors with 30-53 years of practice were having a conversation around various topics on self-care. Many vulnerability and emotions were flowing around the room, which was invaluable sharing among people from a board range of their music therapy journey.

I did not get a chance to speak with the mic. Yet I had so much bubbling inside of me while I was listening to the conversation.


I felt the conversation heated up when Dr. Joy Allen asked the students panelists about the struggles the students face and what kind of support would be beneficial for them.

One of the struggles students mentioned was managing all the expectations from the academic program while balancing their health and financial life. These difficulties cause breakdowns and anxiety. I had to face the same issue, on top of it, as an international student. However, I phrase them as the CHALLENGE instead of struggles. Words and mind-set are powerful. How we perceive a situation determines the effects of the event on us, not the event itself.

When it comes to distress, I believe that rather than the situation impacting us directly, our perception and belief (whether it is conscious or unconscious) about the situation create an impact on us.

When we go to the root of these distresses, it often shows the societal hypnoses:

"We are not enough, unless we achieve/do/manage/perform..."

"I am lovable only if I can do..."

"I don't belong if I can't perform..."


The truth is, however, we are enough.

Every one of us is born lovable and unique.

The roles we are acquiring/learning/trained for (a student, a musician, a music therapist) might not be perfect or get an A at the moment/all the time. That is okay.

That is why we are in training, isn't it?

Plus, isn't it beautiful that there is always room for growth?


By perceiving "struggles" and "hardship" as CHALLENGE, I was determined to grow to the highest level I could with my best efforts and intention. I feel satisfied to witness how much I have been able to strengthen my capacity. After I find where my limitations and boundaries are, I say "great!" with acceptance and a big smile.


Dr. Joy Allen asked all the students:" How can we help students to accept that sometimes you might not get an A and not to feel discouraged by the grade?"

"My answer is to examine the situation through personal therapy. Let's create some distance from societal expectations. Let's become aware of them and grow perspectives about them. Instead of taking an outside grade as the measurement of how much we worth and let that cause the most severe distress, we reassess our inner value system on how we perceive ourselves. Our role as a student, a musician, or a music therapist might not be perfect or always get an A, but we still feel enough in our core. When we feel the enoughness in our core, we will be able to see the world objectively and make improvements through our actions wherever is possible. My appreciation goes to Virginia Satir and Jacob Moreno, whose approaches provide me guidance and tools to become aware of these societal hypnoses and break through them."


Clothes help us experience life and ourselves in diverse ways,
but we are more than the clothes we wear.
Roles help us experience life and ourselves in diverse ways,
but we are more than the roles we declare.

#selfcare #musictherapy #symposium #musictherapist #musician #growth #perception #thoughts #journal #reflection

© 2015-2020 by Xingyu Yao, MT-BC