Red River Valley Winter 2016
A publication of the Southwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association
By thriving and gaining experience despite the setbacks, a music therapist in the southwestern region finds a career training the next generation of clinicians ...
An interview with Janice Lindstrom by RRV Editor Karen Sholander
Three things help explain why Janice Lindstrom stands out in our SWAMTA region: perseverance, service, and personal grace.
Janice was a high school student auditioning for a bassoon scholarship at Sam Houston State when she first heard about music therapy, and knew instantly that this was the right match for her. After finishing her music therapy coursework, she completed her internship in Houston at the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR), and moved into her professional career working with a team of psychologists and counselors as a geriatric psych music therapist. She enjoyed working in small towns in south Texas, but her job came to an abrupt end when her company let go nine music therapists due to political differences between the then-attorney general and mental health professionals.
Janice then began a series of jobs that depended on grants for funding. Each time the funding ran out, Janice had to find or make another job. She did some small contracts for hospitals for a couple of years; maternity leaves for school music therapists; adult psych music therapy; private practice providing school SEMTAS evaluations; worked at facilities for adults with developmental delay; worked with children through the CLASS program.
I found when talking to Janice it became easier after a while to ask which populations she has not worked with. There are two, actually: prisons and childbirth. She has worked in NICU, burn unit, rehab, public schools, inpatient and outpatient psych settings, pediatrics, geriatrics, hospice, refugee services, domestic violence shelters, and private schools. When I asked which is her favorite population she has worked with, Janice answered, “whichever one I am working with at the moment.”
Somewhere in the midst of all those varied work experiences, she earned her Master’s Degree from TWU, focusing on neurology and cognitive sciences.
But losing job after job due to funding cuts and circumstances beyond her control, Janice almost lost heart. Once, while driving back to Dallas after losing funding yet again, she recalls feeling like a failure. She had only a vague plan of what to do next and found herself questioning if music therapy really was the right job for her. From somewhere deep inside her, the answer came back loud and clear, a resounding “Yes!”
All of the varied work settings prepared Janice well to become the supervisor for music therapy students at SMU. Currently the acting chair of the music therapy department at SMU, and the primary professor in her second semester of teaching, Janice states she has no plans to go back to working in the field. Her students might say Professor Lindstrom always says: “Practice. Practice your instrument, practice self-care, practice your sessions. Oh, and read the syllabus!” Yes, Janice is definitely meant to be a university professor.
Janice has also volunteered for most of her adult life to strengthen the profession of music therapy. She has served on SWAMTA as board secretary a couple of times, continuing education chair, assembly delegate, vice president, president-elect, president, past president (I see a pattern here), and currently serves as co-chair of the Texas Task Force working on state recognition for Music Therapy. In addition, she was on the continuing education committees of both national AMTA and CBMT. And in her spare time, she hosts a little radio program called The Music Therapy Show that just broadcast its 230th episode! You can find it at heartbeatmusictherapy.net.
With so much going on in Janice’s career, and working towards her doctoral degree of liberal studies at SMU, on top of being a wife and mom, I was curious how she maintains a balance. When asked about how to maintain a healthy work/life balance, Janice admits it’s tough and she doesn’t always get it right. She decides daily to think positively and sees each day as a chance to make new good decisions, regardless of what she did the day before. She cuts herself some slack, gives herself a little grace to not be perfect. Oh, and she also tries most of the time to have a healthy lifestyle with good food, exercise, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep.
Janice Lindstrom is nothing if not resilient. She has worked hard to grow as a music therapist, and to grow our field. She has experience in almost all settings, and is now affecting the education of the next generation of board certified music therapists. Even through adversity, she comes across as someone confident in her decisions. With so much uncertainty and constant change in her professional life, I asked Janice when she started to feel settled. Janice laughs, “I’ll let you know.”