Where do you work and who are your clients?
I have two contracts with hospices in the Chicago area. Currently, I see patients in Chicago, in Park Ridge, Norridge, Orland Park, Chicago Ridge, Streamwood, and LaGrange.
What inspired you to become a music therapist?
I had been working in Information Technology for a large corporation for many years when I became primary caregiver to my elderly mother. When she became terminally ill with congestive heart failure, we enrolled her in hospice. For five months, my mother thrived on the wonderful care she received, enabling her to enjoy her family, go on short vacations and, especially, to attend my wedding! The hospice team helped to make those last months with her a joyful time despite the pain of losing her. After she died, I left my IT career and took some time off to heal. It was then that I decided to become a music therapist in hospice, and use my experience and love of music to benefit others.
How have you experienced music to be therapeutic yourself?
Music has always been a part of me. My family was musical, and I began playing the piano, flute and guitar as a child. I was always involved in band or orchestra, and later, choir and theatre. As a young adult I began to sing in bands, work in piano bars (they had those back then), write music and even produced a CD of my songs. Music has been a constant companion, a way to express myself, to boost my self-esteem, to combat depression and to process my feelings. It is one of my best friends.
Who is your role model?
I have met so many inspiring people on this path, I can’t choose just one! I think I’ve learned something valuable from every MT, client or student I’ve had the privilege to work with.
What are your hobbies?
I love to knit, crochet and sew. This year I’m trying my hand at gardening. And my husband and I love to travel – our goal is to visit every state in the U.S. together at least once. I think we have made it to about 15 of them!
What is your favorite self-care activity?
This is such an important topic when you work in hospice. For me, it’s about honoring myself, in whatever way I need to in order to feel strong and powerful. Yoga and meditation are two of my favorite methods of self care.
Why did you choose to become an independent contractor?
My first job as an MT was in a senior community. While I loved working with the residents, I was used to a different level of responsibility and independence. I’ve been doing contract work for just over a year now, and it’s perfect for me. I love having accountability for my own contracts, clients and time.
What is your biggest challenge as an independent contractor?
For me, isolation is the biggest one. I need to make an effort to counter that as I am an introvert by nature. I took on an MT practicum student last fall, which helped enormously. And, since I don’t have the support of an IDT, I see a therapist regularly to help me process all the emotions that this work stirs up. Sometimes all my patients remind me of my mom!
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about becoming an IC?
There are great resources on becoming an IC on the AMTA website that I found very helpful. Making a business plan was huge for me. It forced me to think about my strengths and shortcomings, to find my target market, and to set goals for my business. And going forward, it helps me stay focused so I don’t start pursuing clients that are not the right fit for me.