Amy Kalas Buser founded Wholesome Harmonies, LLC in 2006 to, “provide high quality music therapy services to those in and around Miami, FL.” She brings extensive clinical, teaching, and writing experience to lead a large team of therapists and teachers. Amy uses all live music through a wide variety of instruments; she also composes (and publishes!) great original music for children with special needs. Presented below are a few insights Amy shared with the Rhythm & Reason Blog, but through Wholesome Harmonies’ website, she has already organized a TON of music therapy business and clinical practice resources. Check it out! Also, catch up on WH’s blog and follow Amy on Twitter!
Amy, what have you learned about clinical documentation, and are there any examples you would like to share?
“Clinical documentation – I have learned the importance of creating professional documentation that can (and should!) be shared with the entire treatment team. Providing an integrated team approach has enormous benefits for the client. This approach ensures all team members are in communication about the client’s goals and progress.
“How does this work? First, my intake paperwork contains a form entitled ‘Permission for Exchange of Information.’ Here the parent signs to give permission for me to contact the other professionals on the client’s treatment team. The parent then lists educators, physicians, SLPs, OTs, PTs, ABAs and psychologists that are working with their child and lists their contact information.
“When I write up my Assessment Report and Treatment Plan, I send this to the professionals listed on the form. I also follow up with a personal email introducing myself to open the lines of communication. I share the goals I’m working on with the client in music therapy, as well as some of the techniques we’re using to address those goals. Then I invite them to share with me the goals they are working on in their sessions and see how I can incorporate those goals into my sessions, if applicable and within our scope of practice as music therapists.
“I believe this integrated team approach opens the door for communication and a dialogue about the best way to approach treatment for this particular client. I’ve had some wonderful conversations where I’ve been able to share with an OT how I’ve been using the rhythm sticks to work on grasping and bilateral coordination with a client. Likewise, I’ve had a speech therapist share with me the target vocabulary words she was working on in her sessions with this client so I could incorporate them into my sessions as well.”
Advice regarding legal, financial, or other business related parts of private practice?
“My advice is to seek professional advice from an attorney and accountant whenever possible. My accountant has saved me hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars by pointing out deductions I can take that I did not even realize. Not only has seeing an accountant helped save me money, it ensures my tax return is filled out accurately.
“My second piece of advice is to not feel bad if you need to work another job as you’re building up your business. I worked a “9-5” music therapy job at an early intervention program and started seeing clients on the side, in the evenings and on weekends. Slowly, I built up my private practice caseload and slowly learned how to create the paperwork, documents, invoices, and everything else that comes along with running my own business. Then, when I had a big enough caseload built up, and I had subcontractors on my team, I was ready to go full time with my business. There is no shame in starting small and building slowly.”