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The Resilient Music Therapist: Ten Essential Self-Care Practices for Burnout Prevention

Self-care is crucial in preventing burnout (Lee & Miller, 2013) and an ethical responsibility for those in helping professions (Barnett & Cooper, 2009). In music therapy literature, research has shown that music therapists experience an average range of burnout (Vega, 2010) due to work factors, social factors, individual factors, and a disconnection with music (Clementes-Cortes, 2013; Hesser, 2010). Although consequences of burnout for music therapists are concerning (Clementes-Cortes, 2013), burnout is not inevitable (Fowler, 2006).

With self-care practices that promote self-awareness, self-regulation, and balance, burnout can be avoided (Baker, 2003). Additionally, music therapists may also benefit from the use of self-compassion to reduce empathetic distress (Neff, 2012), vicarious resilience to counteract vicarious traumatization (Hernández et al., 2010), and self-exploration practices through music to address one’s relationship to music and creative involvement (Hesser, 2001).

The ten essential self-care practices for music therapists will focus around the unique challenges music therapists face, such as constant advocacy efforts, being a professional minority, working with difficult client populations, and balancing roles as a musician, therapists, and healthcare professional.

This presentation will provide education on burnout for music therapists as well as experiential self-care practices that address the unique needs of music therapists. Attendees will identify their own experiences with burnout and stress and identify actions and self-care practices to immediately implement to sustain quality client care, personal well-being, and career longevity.

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