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Alumni Interview: Sarah Sendlbeck Ernst, #121

Interviewed by Amy Dunlap, Intern #121.

182384_4176348889820_1784883717_nI think you will enjoy what Sarah Sendlbeck Ernst, Intern #105, has to say about entrepreneurship, following your heart, and being in the moment. An influential therapist and business owner, Sarah has made the most of her years post-internship and offers a beautiful remembrance of her time at MusicWorx.

1. What is your current job?
Currently I’m employed my a hospice agency where I work one-on-one with hospice patients and their families. I also run my own private practice that provides services to nursing care facilities, children, and general community members. In true entrepreneurial spirit, my husband and I also started a new company called “The Happy Exchange” which embraces seasonal and conscientious living, and the exchange of whole and good products between people. I like to dip my feet in a little bit of everything! 😀

2.Would you say MusicWorx helped you get to where you are today?
Of COURSE! It truly reinforced my passion for people, and having flexibility in my life and schedule.

3. What drew you to the MusicWorx internship?
I wanted to follow in the footsteps of some of the most accomplished and lovely people in the field. I also loved the idea that I would have the opportunity to grow comfortable working with a variety of populations, in a variety of settings.

4. What was your favorite MusicWorx moment?
SO MANY. I have countless fond memories — especially with all those patient highlights! My most rewarding set of experiences came from my time spent working on the oncology floor at the hospital. It solidified my love for supporting individuals through difficult moments including procedural support, pain management, and relaxation. The most incredibly profound sessions I’ve ever had have happened with oncology patients. One afternoon I spent over an hour with a very special woman. Together we created a beautiful music experience with her on the HAPI drum and myself on the guitar. It ended with a lovely guided relaxation and talk therapy session. I also have the most beautiful memories working with a young woman with autism and a cancer diagnosis. She taught me more lessons then she’ll ever realize, and I still think about our time together.

5. Are there any aspects of what you learned at MusicWorx internship that best prepared you for your career today?
MusicWorx showed me how possible it was to follow your dream and reach your goals. I demonstrated that I could think and live outside of the box and create my own waves in and out of the field. It made me into a flexible, “live in the moment” person.

6. What was one of your biggest challenges during your internship?
I had an incredibly unique internship experience which really pushed me to just “dive in!” Let me explain… it’s a little bit of a Cinderella story. I was inching toward graduation and was on track to start my internship somewhere else. The night of my senior recital I received an email from Barbara. A current intern had to leave the MusicWorx internship program due to a personal situation, and there was an immediate open slot. After a short time to think, I decided I couldn’t possibly pass up this opportunity. Good thing I’m a Sagittarius. My fiance and I sold everything we had, packed my VW Beetle and set sail from New York to California. This all happened in about two weeks. I didn’t even have time to read any of the “before you start” books or learn any music. I was now behind my co-intern and had to dive into solo sessions and mentoring junior interns that were coming in almost immediately. I loved every minute of it and it really pushed me to be a better therapist. Wouldn’t change it for anything!

7. What was your biggest “aha!” moment for your professional and/or personal growth?
One day I realized that I was not at all phased by switching from population to population and having appropriate interventions for them. I could hop from an older adult group, to a hospital setting, to children, to a student with multiple disabilities … all in a day. I gained a great deal of self-confidence during internship because it forces you to be flexible in the moment.

8. What would be your one piece of advice to future MusicWorx interns?
Let go. Let go of inhibitions, self-critiquing thoughts and strict session plans. Live in the moment and enjoy your clients. Realize what they’re teaching you and be flexible because that is where the growth is.

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