Music Therapy Internship Application PDF icon

Internship Director
Claire W. Littlejohn, MT-BC
Coordinator of Music Therapy
9330 Medical Plaza Dr
Charleston, SC 29406
Phone: (843) 847-4134
Fax: (843) 647-6119

At Trident Medical Center, music therapy services are available to all clinical departments that provide direct patient care. Music therapy interns will have opportunities to provide services to the critical care unit, orthopedic/neurological unit, cardiac unit, progressive care unit, close observation unit, special care nursery, oncology unit, medical/surgical units, and the outpatient cancer center and surgery center. At Summerville Medical Center, music therapy services are available to the pediatric unit and special care nursery.

Treatment Services Provided

Inpatients and outpatients at Trident Health receive interdisciplinary treatment and care from a combination of the following:

  • Physicians
  • Nursing staff
  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacy
  • Social work
  • Resource management
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech/language pathology
  • Music therapy
  • Pastoral care including Stephen Ministers
  • Family education and support groups
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Volunteer services

Treatment Philosophy

Trident Health is a comprehensive healthcare system that recognizes meeting the needs of our patients, guests, physicians, and employees are a pathway to success. Above all else, Trident Health and its employees, physicians, and volunteers are committed to the care and improvement of human life. In recognition of this commitment, we strive to deliver high quality, cost-effective healthcare in the communities we serve.

Our values: We recognize and affirm the unique and intrinsic value of each individual; we treat all those we serve with honesty and compassion; we act with absolute honesty, integrity, and fairness in the way we conduct our business and the way we live our lives; we treat our colleagues as valuable members of our healthcare team and pledge to treat one another with loyalty, respect and dignity.

Our mission: “A New Tradition.”

Accreditation/Licensure of the Facility

Trident Health in accredited through JCAHO and licensed through the State of South Carolina.

Other Clinical Training Programs Provided

  • Family Medicine Residency Program
  • Student Nurses from MUSC, CSU, TTC
  • Medical Students
  • Pharmacy Students
  • Respiratory Therapy Students
  • Stephen Ministers

Library Services

The music therapy intern will have access to several university and public libraries located within 20 minutes ofTridentMedicalCenter. Additionally, several source books, literature and journals pertinent to music therapy, psychology, and medicine are available on site.

Additional Information

The Trident Health music therapy internship lasts six months (40 hours per week, Monday through Friday). Internships are a minimum of 900 hours or any greater length of time needed to fulfill the clinical training requirement of 1200 hours. Two internships will progress simultaneously, staggered three months apart, allowing for interns to learn from one another, with the senior intern being a mentor for the entering intern. Start months include:

  • January
  • March
  • June
  • September

End dates are determined based on intern’s clinical training hours, and holidays.

The intern will be provided an office space, shared by a co-intern. The office is equipped with a personal work space and desk top computer with access to printer/copier facilities and materials. Equipment and instruments available include three guitars (1 acoustic and 2 classical), portable Yamaha keyboard, an autoharp, a variety of percussion instruments (i.e. ocean drums, rains sticks, buffalo drum, paddle drums, wrist bells, maracas, egg shakers, adapted tambourines, cabassa, thunder tube, claves, and assorted mallets), and one portable CD player. This collection of instruments is continuously growing as needs arise and funds are available.

The intern will be an active member of the interdisciplinary treatment team and will have the opportunity to observe, co-lead, and lead both individual and group sessions, participate in treatment team meetings, complete patient assessments and evaluation of treatments, document progress notes, participate in interdisciplinary committees and attend in-services and trainings related to the care of hospitalized patients. Weekly supervision, formal and informal observation, and performance evaluations will be provided in addition to the completion of assignments, special projects, and case studies.

During orientation, the music therapy intern (MTI) will be oriented to the facility, policies, individual units, and to the referral and documentation system. Additionally, the MTI will shadow various staff and disciplines at the hospital to gain a greater understanding of various roles in the hospital setting as well as begin to develop working relationships. At the end of the orientation period, the intern will be assigned to at least three units on a rotating schedule and will begin the observation period of the internship. As the internship continues, the intern will rotate to other units as well as have the opportunity to select a unit of special interest to conclude their internship.

During the observation period, the MTI will observe individual and group sessions on assigned units. During the observation portion of the MTI experience, the MTI will be asked to write observations after each session including observations of client behavior with and without music, interventions and goal areas, description of the music, what was and was not successful and why and what was learned about the client, self, music therapy while observing the session. Additionally, the MTI will provide a sample assessment and progress note related to the observed session as well as treatment recommendations. The internship director will provide verbal and written feedback on the evaluation of sessions and documentation. Lastly, the intern will begin to attend weekly treatment team meetings on assigned units.

As the MTI continues to gain knowledge and skills, the phase of co-leading will begin. Prior to co-leading, the intern will have to show beginning knowledge of specific assessment and treatment techniques used on assigned units. The internship director will work closely with the MTI to determine which interventions will be lead by the MTI as well as provide verbal and written feedback. During this time, the intern will continue to fill out the observation report, in addition to the intern session review plan. Additionally, the intern will begin entering assessments and progress notes into patient charts after approval from the internship director. Finally, the intern will be expected to start contributing to weekly team meetings.

As the intern begins to display appropriate skills and ability to choose and implement specific technique related to assigned units, the phase of leading will begin. During this phase, the intern will be expected to plan and lead individual and group sessions as well as independently complete assessments on assigned units. The internship director will be present during the first several sessions that the intern leads, but after that supervision will take place on a weekly basis. Verbal and written feedback will be provided on assessment techniques, chosen interventions, documentation skills, and session evaluations. During this phase, the intern will be required to complete the session review form, daily contact log, and documentation in the medical charts including assessments and progress notes. Additionally, the intern will be expected to be an active participant in treatment team meetings.

The majority of patient contact at Trident Medical Center is in the form if 1:1 interventions. The internship director will assign, on a rotating basis, units to be followed by the MTI. It will be the intern’s responsibility to review patient charts, assess the patient, and meet with the members of the treatment team to determine and design an appropriate treatment plan for the individual client. As part of the music therapy department at Trident Health, interns will gain advance skills in music therapy techniques for pain management, music therapy in cancer care, music therapy with neonates, music therapy at end of life, music based music therapy assessments, and single session treatments.

Documentation demands for Trident Medical Center’s Music Therapy Program included:

  • Completion of music therapy assessments on assigned units
  • Completion of music therapy progress notes on assigned units
  • Completion of intern session review forms and observation reports
  • Completion of daily contact logs
  • Completion of session plans

The MTI will be provided with a variety of resources related to terminology and documentation in medical settings.

Music therapy interns will function as part of the interdisciplinary team of treatment professionals, providing multiple learning opportunities. When attending treatment team meetings, the intern will be expected to be an active participant, contributing on patient progress and concerns, receiving referrals, and educating on the use of music therapy with specific medical conditions and symptoms.

In addition to hospital and related in-service training, the MTI will be given the opportunity to attend either the National or Regional Conference for AMTA, and any and all state MT workshops. Additionally, the intern will be given the opportunity to attend conferences, seminars, or related sites directly related to music therapy and deemed appropriate by the internship director. At total of five educational days may be used and counted towards the required number of internship hours for supplemental training experiences.

The MTI will also be encouraged to keep a journal or actively engage in a modality of choice as an outlet for feelings and/or experiences during the internship experiences as well as participate in activities related to this.

The internship director (ID) will formally and informally supervise the MTI throughout the internship in the areas of direct patient contact and treatment, evaluation and documentation of sessions, assessment, treatment planning, supervision, participation in treatment team meetings, staff relations, and participation in training sessions. The MTI will have the opportunity to see the ID’s completed formal observation form and engage in active dialogue with the ID regarding strengths as well as areas for continued improvement. Emphasis will be placed on constructive feedback. Each intern is entitled to a minimum of four hours of observation per week with the internship director.

The music therapy intern is expected to be an active participant in formal and informal supervision by the internship director. In addition to observations and reports, the intern will meet with the clinical supervisor on a weekly basis for formal supervision. This will be the time for the MTI to ask questions or express concerns about his/her MT experience. Each intern is entitled to one hour of formal supervision on a weekly basis. While group supervision may take place, it will serve as an adjunct to individual consultation and will not replace aforementioned requirements. Additionally, the following is a list of potential topics to be covered during supervision:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Professional staff interaction
  • Advanced verbal skills and techniques
  • Music assisted relaxation
  • In-service development
  • Caring for the caregiver
  • Avoiding burnout
  • Music therapy and community outreach
  • Documentation and goal writing
  • Plans for special requirements and projects
  • Expanding music repertoire
  • Music therapy and end of life
  • Family music therapy sessions
  • Multimodal stimulation and premature infants

The music therapy intern will complete several projects related to music therapy in medical settings to enhance their experience at Trident Medical Center as well as gain a greater understanding of the role and potential of music therapy in medical settings.

In addition to a board certified music therapist, the music therapy intern will have the opportunity to work closely with board certified chaplains, social workers, case managers, nurses, patient care technicians, physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and respiratory therapists.

Living Arrangements

Interns will be responsible for providing their own living arrangements


A $2500 stipend will be provided

Liability Coverage

The music therapy intern will be responsible for providing their own liability insurance through their university or independent insurer. Proof of liability insurance will be needed prior to starting.


The intern will be responsible for providing their own transportation to and from Trident Medical Center as well as Summerville Medical Center. There will be no additional funding for mileage.

Assessment of the following skills will be based on internship application, letters of recommendation, on-site interview and audition.

Musical Skills

  • Ability to play and transpose I, IV, V chord progressions on the guitar/piano to accompany a song
  • Ability to accompany a song using guitar/piano while leading a group in song
  • Ability to sing in tune and in tempo
  • Ability to compose songs or simple arrangements using I, IV, V chords
  • Ability to improvise using rhythm instruments, guitar, and/or piano
  • Ability to play guitar/piano in variety of tempos/styles
  • General knowledge of repertoire with a variety of musical styles

Clinical Skills

  • Ability to assess, observe, and document a patient’s mood, affect, behavior, and responses to musical interventions
  • Ability to document a patient’s progress during music therapy sessions
  • Knowledge of specific music therapy goals in relation to medical patients
  • Ability to locate necessary medical information within medical dictionaries, Physician’s Desk Reference, and other related sources
  • Knowledge of basic medical terminology and common medical diagnoses
  • Beginning ability to effectively plan, prepare, and implement 1:1 and small group music therapy sessions with supervision

Professional Skills

  • Respect towards other persons in response to a variety of situations or circumstances
  • Ability to adequately express oneself in a professional manner
  • Punctuality, professionalism, and organization necessary to fulfill ones assigned duties
  • Ability to interact effectively with related disciplines
  • Ability to follow hospital policies and procedures
  • Openness to supervision process
  • Completion of required number of internship hours in accordance with AMTA internship guidelines
  • Observe, co-lead, and lead both individual and group music therapy sessions
  • Assessment, treatment, evaluation, and documentation of individual and group sessions
  • Participation in formal and informal supervision
  • Completion of performance evaluations
  • Completion of a large music therapy project consisting of the necessary research needed to start a new music therapy group or targeted service area in a hospital setting, or a pilot study related to area of interest within the hospital setting, or a new music therapy program in the community
  • Implementation of a in-service, workshop, or professional presentation
  • Bi-weekly reports related to articles on music therapy with medical patients
  • Development of a hospital specific songbook
  • Completed application to seek board certification at completion of internship

Number of Interns per Training Period

At this time, Trident Medical Center has one internship director and will be able to accept no more than two interns per training period. The internship start dates will be staggered so that no more than one intern will start at any given time. This also allows for interns to learn from one another, with the senior intern being a mentor for the entering intern.

January and March slots: applications must be postmarked by April 15 and interviews conducted in May (year prior to start date).

June and September slots: applications must be postmarked by October 15 and interviews conducted in November (year prior to start date).

All efforts will be made to send notification of internship acceptance or denial at least five months prior to the preferred internship start date.

Site Specific Administrative Requirements

Trident Health requires a signed School Affiliation Agreement prior to any intern starting. Also, Trident Health will cover all cost associated with orientation and code of conduct, Medi-tech training, background check, drug screen and TB shots. However, the student will need to provide proof of liability insurance. If this is provided through the College, a letter stating this will be required.

Music therapy is an established healthcare profession and a complementary treatment modality. At Trident Health, music therapists use music and the patient/therapist relationship to promote healing and enhance quality of life. When applied in conjunction with other medical treatments, it can help patients cope mentally and physically with their illness.

Within medical settings, music therapy allows a person to focus on the parts of themselves that are still healthy, creative, and expressive, no matter how ill one may be. Through the patient/therapist relationship that develops with and through the music, a healthy space is created, allowing for needed physical, emotional, and/or spiritual change to take place. This in turn allows for the patient to live his or her life rather than focusing completely on the illness.

From the moment of conception, we are all exposed to and respond to music, whether it is physiologically, behaviorally, emotionally, socially, or spiritually. It is this mind-body connection that makes music therapy such a valuable technique with medical patients. In medical settings, music therapy can:

  • Facilitate emotional self-expression and provide a supportive environment with opportunities to confront fears and discuss concerns
  • Evoke memories, set a mood, capture a feeling, serve as a historical timeline and access and express emotions that might otherwise be difficult to share.
  • Assist individuals in maintaining a sense of independence with retaining a sense of control over his or her life
  • Summon forgotten and necessary resources for survival
  • Allow for a significant effect on pain, decreasing pain perception and dependence on pain medication
  • Lessen feelings of isolation and loneliness by providing opportunity for social interaction and sharing
  • Lower blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate
  • Provide motivation for physical activity
  • Enhance feelings of well-being
  • Provide opportunities for choice and decision making
  • Help reaffirm one’s faith and facilitate hope

A biopsychosocial model of care is used within the music therapy department at Trident Health. Specific techniques include the use of songs, including songwriting, song improvisation, song based life reviews, and song choice; music assisted relaxation techniques; entrainment for pain management; improvisation; and multimodal stimulation with premature infants. There is a heavy emphasis on the use of live music. Specialized music therapy services are available at Trident Medical Center including music therapy for pain management and music therapy services for cancer patients. For pain management, both active and passive techniques are used to assist the patient in developing a routine that not only addresses their immediate needs, but also one the patient can learn to use independently. Additionally, special techniques are used to address chronic pain issues, such as sickle cell and cancer pain, where an emotional and spiritual component of pain may be present. The purpose of music therapy services for cancer patients is to combat those factors impairing survival from cancer – helplessness, lack of fighting spirit, fatigue, non-expression of emotions, anger, anxiety, distress, and depression.

Students add a wealth of energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge to any clinical program. The music therapy program at Trident Health is committed to providing quality education and training. It is our philosophy that along with an abundance of opportunity for theoretical, clinical, and professional growth, a supportive learning environment is integral to the development of a young professional.

In the early part of internship, observation of clinical practice and theoretical application make up a large portion of the experience. This includes observing music therapy sessions, evaluations, documentation, and treatment planning, all of which are consistently followed with post-session processing and guided tutoring. There is also plenty of opportunity for observation of other medical disciplines (i.e. physical therapy, and Stephen Ministry), participation in treatment team meetings, development and maintenance of relationships with peers and staff, and implementation of music therapy education and advocacy on the Trident campus and within the community. The rate of progression to co-leading and leading sessions, with formal and informal observation, is often governed by each individual intern’s strengths and needs. As the intern develops and changes, the role of the intern director alters accordingly so as to support the intern, from instructor, to modeler, to mutual problem-solver. This articulates the importance of a balanced relationship, where the student helps to develop their own path, allowing for freedom of natural growth, and autonomy. Thusly, interns are expected to take ownership over their internship experience.

As the intern director is responsible for implementing frequent opportunities for supervision, it is equally the responsibility of the intern to fully participate; always asking questions, sharing observations, bringing up concerns and abundantly contributing to the supervision process. One key to being a successful intern is to not only be passionate about music therapy, but be motivated to learn and practice by taking advantage of all there is to offer at Trident Health. One other, very important key is to be willing and open to personal growth, insight, and self-awareness. These qualities can richly enhance the overall experience, and the overall growth and development of an intern into a competent and compassionate professional.

As the internship unfolds, every effort will be made to allow the intern to specialize in an area of interest whether it is music therapy with a specific population, diagnosis, symptom, or a particular music therapy technique. At the end of internship, a successful intern should be prepared to sit for the board certification exam, and furthermore, be well prepared with the knowledge and skill set necessary for continued growth and advancement as a board certified music therapist.