Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Crucial Conversation Update

I did it. I engaged in a crucial conversation yesterday, and I was able to express my feelings and attitudes about the situation I was forced into. I was also able to get a firm decision by my administrator (at least, she told me that the decision was firm - we'll see if she remembers the other part of the discussion - the notification of the faculty about the decision).

I was able to get a clear path forward on the schedule and how things will work next year.

I was not able to remain rational - I cried a bit.

I still got what I needed from the situation - a change in schedule that makes sense to me and allows me to have what everyone else in the facility has - a set schedule that doesn't have to be changed to accommodate someone else's schedule during two months of the year. 

I'm glad that is over (for, at least, the moment).

I didn't sleep very well last night. A short cat-fight woke me up at 12:47:52am, jarring me awake, and then the storms started rolling in. I dozed for the rest of the night, waking with the loud thunderclaps, and keeping an eye out for stray cats. 

Other than that, things seem to be going well in the music therapy room at my facility. Now that I know what my schedule will be, I can start to identify the kids that I want for individual treatment. I've got some in mind and the security to be able to establish a schedule. I've had four inquiries about my newly reestablished internship program, so I think I'll have some interns soon.

I spent some time improvising with my students this week. I also introduced them to some different music. Our Musician of the Month is John Denver, and I've been playing songs from the 60's during our instrument play this time around. Nothing has been very complex, but it all has been therapeutic.

Simple sometimes is the best.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Crucial Conversation - I Hate These Situations

One of the modules I offer for free to interns is one on Crucial Conversations. It was suggested by an anonymous intern quite a while ago as something that would be valuable to other interns - basically, how to talk to someone when you are in a conflict of some sort. We talk about conflict resolution, active listening, and attempting to remain rational rather than emotional.

I am going to have a crucial conversation today (I hope).

Scheduling for next year has turned into a hot mess. We are adding another classroom, so things will have to change, but everyone is having hissy fits about changing ANYTHING! I am going to engage in my own hissy fit today because I am tired of being the only one who has to change to accommodate the demands of other people.

I am not a person who enjoys confrontation. I tend to go straight into my defensive mode of crying when I have to talk about things that affect my emotions. Anger is expressed through crying. Frustration is expressed through crying. Interestingly, I rarely express sadness through crying.

I need several things to happen during this crucial conversation. I need an apology for being set up as the scapegoat for a scheduling debacle. it was unfair to me to be named as someone who did something that was so obviously wrong without prior notice. I did not need to be the one who was sent accusatory emails by so-called "team members." I need a decision about how we are going to do our schedules from now on. If the goal is common planning time, then we are going to have to change from what we do now to something new. If the goal is just to have services provided without the need for common planning time, then I need the permission to set up my schedule my way - not to have someone else make my schedule for me. I also then need those changes to be announced to the entire faculty so that they know what is happening.

Time to practice what I preach about conflict resolution.

One of the things that I emphasize about getting out of conflicts is the need to seek a win-win situation. I know, going into this, that I will not get everything I think I need out of the conversation, but I must have some accommodations and results. So, I need a chance to talk about what is bothering me and then some support in finding a resolution that provides consistent information to all staff members. I need to stay in my rational mind and not get into my emotional mind. (Ugh. That one is difficult for me.) I need to remain assertive, avoid accusations, but still communicate clearly about my needs.

I am dreading this already. With my luck, the principal will be gone today and all this angst will have to be repeated tomorrow and the day after before it can be resolved.

This will be a difficult process, but one that is necessary and valuable to my continued presence at the facility.

If you are interested in more information about conflict resolution, comment below. I have some good resources on my powerpoint presentation...

I'm also available for webinars and discussions...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Morning

Well, here it is. The first day back after Spring Break. It's time to get back into a therapy routine and focus attention on client progress and treatment again. The past week was a good start towards my personal goals (always trying to get to minimalism - but not succeeding), but it wasn't quite enough time to get bored with my own company and be itching to get back to work.

I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to do (I NEVER do), but I did get some things done. I spent time in the company of other music therapists (got some really good feedback about my presentation topics). I bought some new pants (spent WAY more money than I've spent in the last two years on clothing, but I really needed to have some new uniform pants!). I completed and submitted my CBMT pre-approved provider application so I can start offering CMTE coursework for music therapists. I took naps, had a severe dizzy spell, and cleaned the house a bit. I got lots of kitty snuggles and maintained an appropriate relationship with the feline (she still came towards me when I entered a room rather than walking out).

Now, however, it is time to get back into my work mode. I am returning to a conflict situation that has more effect on me than anyone else, but we're all out for ourselves. I will have to be assertive and possibly aggressive (not my usual way of interacting with co-workers, but then I'm the one who has to do the most changing the way things are right now).

I have four sessions today - three groups and one individual. Then I have some time for planning. I will spend that time finishing documentation and continuing to organize my office, getting things placed on my bookshelves and putting things in storage cabinets. I have some internship stuff to attend to, but then the rest of my time is my own.

I wonder what we'll do today in music therapy. I think there will be some dancing - maybe with the large scarves - we could make a rainbow to celebrate spring rain. We will address sensory seeking behaviors before we start our music therapy work - maybe some emotion-based songwriting. Maybe not. That's the nice thing about being a therapist who is flexible in nature - the clients will add as many ideas to the session as I do.

It's time to get my Monday off to a good start - some breakfast and then a commute while listening to podcasts or audio tracks to videos (I always put the iPod in its box when I am driving - I don't watch!). After that, we'll see what the day brings.

This evening I am planning to start generating content for my CMTE coursework. Anyone want to know about songwriting? I hope so.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Just A Song Sunday: Write Your Own, Get CMTEs!

I am steeped in songwriting these days. I took a final leap yesterday and FINALLY submitted my application to become a CBMT pre-approved provider of continuing education for music therapists (CMTEs) (I've been talking about it for 20 years and FINALLY FINISHED THE PROCESS). As a result, I am starting to generate content for my courses, and songwriting is at the top of the list.

I enjoy writing songs. I like to compose something specifically for a client. I like writing songs that help a client move towards his or her personal therapeutic goals. I've written several collections of original songs with additional therapeutic music experiences, and I think that it's good for music therapists to play around with composition and songwriting to spur creativity. One of the things that I'd wished I'd known a long time ago is that I can earn up to 20 CMTE credits for my songwriting. (It's my own fault, I've got to actually READ the recertification manual to get all this wonderful information.)

Here's how it works (straight from the recertification manual - page 24).

Original Music Composition
1) Musical score of the original composition, at least 16 measures in length and
correctly notated by hand or by computer software.
2) Audio recording of the composition on audiotape or CD.
3) Composition's therapeutic use must be included:
a) client population(s) for which appropriate
b) therapeutic domain(s) addressed
c) at least one specific therapeutic objective within the stated domain(s)
d) procedure for implementing the composition to meet the objective(s)

Whoo-hoo! My sing about song series does all of this and more! There are 20 easy CMTEs for this recertification period.

I hope that others take advantage of this simple process and WRITE SONGS! If you feel that your songwriting skills need a zap, keep an eye on the website - as soon as I'm approved as a provider, I'll start the CMTE course!!

Now go out there and WRITE THOSE SONGS!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Looking Forward - Here's to the Next 24!

Tomorrow is an anniversary for me.

Twenty-four years ago, on March 26th, I finished my last hours as a music therapy intern and became a music therapist.

I celebrate this date occasionally. It was the biggest anniversary event in my life - something I accomplished by myself, and something that was both the beginning of something and the end of something.

I was officially finished with my undergraduate degree and internship. I was no longer a student of music therapy - I was expected to be employed as a therapist and to know how to do my job. I was starting that mythical time in my life as an "entry-level therapist." (Cue the angelic proclamations!)

I wish I could tell you that I felt ready to take on the world of music therapy by storm. I wish I could tell you that I found my life as a music therapist to be all sunshine and rainbows. I wish I could tell you that my music therapy education prepared me for the reality of the jobs that I took over the years. All of those things would have been really grand, but the reality was (and is) that book learning, tests, and clinical experiences cannot prepare any of us for every eventuality. The best thing we can do for ourselves and for those we teach is to encourage critical thinking skills and offer strategies for how to solve problems when they arise (and they will).

I can tell you, the past 24 years of my life have been full of challenges. They have been marked by periods of personal and professional growth. They have been marked by periods of frustration and feelings of inadequacy. They have been marked by periods of joy and celebration as well. There has been nothing that I would really trade in my professional journey over the past 24 years - the negative experiences taught me more about myself and about this profession than many of the positive experiences.

On the other hand, the past 24 years of my life has also been full of joys. I have been privileged to watch music therapy become more known in the world as a therapeutic medium. I have met music therapists from around the world who have widened my vision of what music therapy is and can be. I have kept music therapy friends from before this anniversary date (not many, but I still know 2 others who are active in the music therapy world), and I have had the opportunity to meet so many others through my work. I have been able to share ideas with some of the great music therapy minds of this generation. I have been able to hear ideas from some of the music therapy minds of the next generation.

I am looking forward to the next 24 years of being a therapist.

Here's what I hope will happen for us as a profession.

We will continue to be recognized as an important modality for the benefit of human beings.

Music therapy will become as much of an expectation as education and medical intervention.

Music therapists will feel secure in their professions in ways not known to us in prior years.

We will work together as a group, strengthening our presence in the professional world.

In time, I hope that these things will come to pass. I think they will, but it will be a long process. If I am still here in the year 2041, I hope to be writing about this blog post and making new predictions because the ones I make now are finished and done with. That's my hope.

Keep moving forward, fellow therapists. The journey is not over, but is it well begun.

Friday, March 24, 2017

My Last Day

It's the last day of break (I go back to the everyday type of schedule tomorrow morning, early). I did what I always do - make big plans and not get through them - but progress was made towards the clear/clean out. I will just have to continue to do my small steps forward everyday to help me get to my goal.

I found a shredding service that only charges 49 cents per pound. Score! It's also on my way home - less than a block away - so, I can shred all of the junk mail once per month and not have to worry about it piling up. (I tend to go through shredders often with the amount of stuff I want to shred. Finding a shredding service takes a load off my mind and gets stuff out of my house. Ooh, I can even make a decorated box for my junk mail and put it right next to my door. That would be a good way to spend part of my last day...) 

There are other things that I want to get accomplished. I have to make a phone call to finish up my worker's compensation case. I hate making phone calls, but I can do this after business hours so I am guaranteed to get the voice mailbox and not the actual person. I don't think I have any other phone calls to make, but I might have some in the back of my head that I've conveniently "forgotten."

I came up with an idea for a file folder to go along with the song, Little Bunny Foo-Foo. I think it will be cute once it is all put together. There is a fairy that actually moves and an arm that moves up and down (bopping the field mouse on the head). I have to use my laminator (it's at work right now) to get it all finished. It's going to be cute!

This break hasn't really been what I intended it to be, but it has given me some time to relax.

I am finished with my CBMT packet to become a pre-approved provider. It's time. I will send it by tomorrow afternoon. I am going to read it all over again today and get the last details covered. Then, it will be a reality.

Anyone want some CMTEs? Check out the website about 30 minutes after I get an approval. I've got an idea for how to offer a variety of courses for music therapists in a variety of subject areas. It will take some time and some work, but I am ready to start first track pretty soon after I get approval. The last thing is the learner objectives for the first track - I've got them written down, but I haven't been able to transfer them from the paper to the computer (because I haven't unpacked from conference yet - lazy!).

It's time to get ready to get back into the schedule and routine of my therapy setting.

Monday is that day.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thoughtful Thursday: Allowing Myself to Feel

I've been doing lots and lots of thinking during this Spring Break week. 

I was told that a project that I spent hours on was systematically dismantled by fellow staff members while I was at conference. I am not happy about this, but I've decided that I will no longer put myself out in this particular project. I requested two things - a change in group times to avoid having to completely re-do my schedule during the summer months and the addition of another classroom group (since we are adding another classroom group). Apparently, that wasn't something that my co-workers were willing to do, so I have to go back to being the only person on the campus who has to change schedules during the summer session. I have to increase the number of session plans that I have to do during those two months with absolutely no planning time during those same months. I will no longer put myself in the position of working on this master schedule just to have it destroyed by people who are unwilling to change.

It is amazing that one negative bit of information can derail me so easily. Up until yesterday morning, when I received this information, my break was going along swimmingly. I was relaxing, cleaning, making progress on my goals. Then, the email came. I allowed myself to dwell on my feelings yesterday, feeling them deeply. Today, however, I am going to try not to let it get me down.

I am always torn between stuffing my emotion and feeling my emotion. I am a highly sensitive person and tend to over emote at times. My default expression of emotion is crying. I cry at confrontation, at anger, at frustration, but rarely at sadness (at least, not in front of other people - my sadness crying is mostly private).

So, yesterday, I dwelt on my emotions. I allowed myself to be angry. I allowed myself to be depressed. I allowed myself to go back to anger. I am going to move into acceptance and form my strategy for how I will respond when I get back to work on Monday. I'm not going to assist in the process from now on. That's that. I do not need this emotional cattle prod every year. It's not worth the angst and anger that I put myself through.

Today is a day to focus on me. I still have three days left of break (Sunday doesn't count as a day off - I work all morning and have to lead all aspects of worship), so it is time to do something that I want to do. Some of that will be here at home - I need to get a couple of projects finished - some may be away from my home - I could buy something frivolous that I really don't need... hmmm.

The possibilities are endless and all up to me!