Amy Mercier, a music therapy graduate student, interned at Four Seasons Hospice in Hendersonville, North Carolina, from June-December 2016.
As an equivalency and master’s student in Appalachian State University’s music therapy program, Amy Mercier completed an internship in Hendersonville and a service-learning study abroad in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica. Both experiences allowed her to apply the skills and knowledge she acquired in class and develop new skills – or, as she put it, add “more tools to my toolbox.”
In Hendersonville, Mercier interned at Four Seasons Hospice where she worked in end-of-life care and bereavement, providing music therapy. “We work just as much with the family as we do with the patient who is dying,” Mercier said. She focused her final project on songwriting in grief and bereavement, in which she used the intervention of songwriting with both groups and individual children, adolescents and adults. “There’s a lot that can be reached through music, with both patients and families, at the time of a death that talk therapy can’t access,” she said.
Successfully completing the internship was a final step before taking the exam to become a board-certified music therapist. She said the opportunity shaped ideas for her master’s thesis as she hopes to focus on the songwriting with adolescents whom have experienced trauma. “I took this internship because we don’t have a lot of experience with hospice at Appalachian. I wanted to see if it was something I was interested in. The skills that I learned, I really, truly feel, will be transferrable,” she said.
Her summer 2016 service-learning experience preceded the six-month internship. She spent 11 days in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica via the Jamaica Field Service Project offered through The State University of New York - Potsdam. She learned of the selective program through one of her professors at Appalachian. With nine other music therapy students from across the United States, she offered music therapy clinical services to children, adults and the elderly in local schools and care centers.
While there, she took Afro-Caribbean drumming courses as a way to develop a new skill for use in clinical settings. She said she also became more aware of her own emotions as she immersed herself in the culture of Jamaica and ways she can engage in further self-care.
Having earned her bachelor’s degree in music/voice performance from High Point University, Mercier said she chose Appalachian because of its music therapy program, size and location.
“There’s so much here, and yet within that, in my program, there are just six of us. I really like the feeling of being connected, not just surface relationships, but deeper relationships with my colleagues and professors, and being where I am valued for who I am. I feel that at App,” she concluded.