Sunday, August 26, 2007

Job Hunting
I just gave some advice to a new therapist about accepting that first job. I remember those days of angst - Do I really want to be a music therapist here? My parents pressuring me to get any job that paid me some money. The interrogations every evening about what I did, who I contacted, how many resumes did I send out during the day. The best advice I received was from my parents. "Find a job and then focus on your career." I spent a little over a year working near my profession, but not as a music therapist. It took me 14 months to find any music therapy job. In the waiting time, I was a recreation leader for children with emotional disorders and was a QMRP/Administrator for a group home company. When the call came for the music therapy job, I was petrified of failing as a therapist. My dad, who is my sounding board, sat me down and asked me several questions. The first was, "Do you want to be a music therapist?" I did not know how to answer - I had never been a music therapist. The second question was the one that cemented the answer for me, "Do you want to be a QMRP?" The answer was a resounding "NO!!!" I took the music therapy job the next day. Now, secure in my position with my school district, I am always half-looking for the next perfect job. I can afford to glance at job postings because I am fine with the job that I have. I do not need to find a better paying job unless one plops into my lap. This has happened before and I anticpate it will happen again someday. There is hope out there, ether. Keep looking.

Friday, August 24, 2007

More thoughts on the difference between therapy and education...
The best thing about therapy is that it is client-driven. While special education is supposed to be individualized, many times the individualization comes from the IEP goals. Curriculum stays the same and is applied to every student. Therapy, in my opinion, has to evolve with each client and during every session. I often make plans for sessions that go up in smoke as soon as the clients walk into the therapy room. For example, I planned a rhythm writing and reading game that required teamwork and listening, but the classroom came in and were engaed in several arguments. There was no group cohesion. Teamwork was not an option unless riots were the goal of the session. Junk the rhythm game plan - went to ribbon stick dancing. This allowed the clients to move around the room (great for centering the thoughts, tiring the body, increasing blood flow to the brain, and for calming!) and interact with only the persons that they wanted to interact with. I, as the therapist, observed the dynamics of the group and was able to smooth out potential problems and direct attention elsewhere. The teacher came in and looked appalled that we were moving wherever we wanted and were loud and busy. I merely smiled. The students left the room as a cohesive group, interacting with one another without the prior stresses or conflicts. Teamwork attitudes had been achieved. There are times when junking the plan is necessary. More ramblings later as this evolves in my brain...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's A Small World, After All...

There is something comforting about being anonymous out here on the internet. I can post my thoughts out there and anyone can read it. Pretty cool. I often wonder who, if anyone, accesses this page. Fun to find out that some people do -


Today, I was sucked into the small world that I live in. I received a comment from a fellow music therapist out there in the web and then responded to a comment on the music therapy ListServ that has generated several requests for more information. There are music therapists out there who are doing the same thing that I am!! What a nice feeling to find a community way out here in rural life!


We are back in school. Students have returned to the music room for five school days now. We are getting back into the swing of things after 2 lazy weeks in the sweltering heat. I had to assist a student with maintaining his physical responses today - not my general role, but one that I take on if needed. Today it was needed. The problem with working with large groups of adolescents and children with developmental and psychiatric diagnoses is that there are times when you are unable to address the needs of the individual in the interest of the whole. Music can generally provide individual opportunites within the group treatment format, but not always. Today was one of those days.


I had some wonderful music making moments today as well as the frustrating one that I kinda described. We ribbon danced today before writing rhythmic patterns on our rhythm wheels. Kids were singing, yelling, clapping, laughing, and generally in a good mood during their sessions. I love this job! Where else can you dance, sing, scream, laugh, whisper, stomp, and jiggle - and get paid to do it?


My professors tend to want me to go into academia after I finish my education - I keep resisting. Why would I want to give up the challenges, irritations, and joyful moments that my clients give to me freely for a world of tenure seeking and gold standard research? It's not for me right now.


Goodnight, internet ether!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Thoughts on Therapy...
I was sitting here, on my second to last Sunday off from work, just thinking about what it is to be a therapist. I talked to my intern about education versus therapy on Friday - mostly the frustration that I share with the teachers at my school about why therapy has to have different rules than the classroom. Many of them do not understand the difference. It bothers me that Ihave not been able to express the difference to them in eleven years. So, it started me thinking - dangerous pasttime! More when I get organized.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The end of vacation...

The end of vacation occurred today. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth as I ended my fruitless quest for the minimalist apartment and settled for less crap sitting around. After two phone calls from my boss - she started each conversation with "Don't panic, this isn't a big deal," I have concluded that I am ready to return to the daily pattern of work and work, and then work some more.


It is time to focus on being therapeutic again. I had a great conversation with a friend who is a professor. She reinforced all of the things that I do not like about academe - the hidden rules, the tenure-track, the isolation and the pressures to fulfill the role of perfection. I am still firm in my resolution to remain a clinician, even after I complete my education and effectively price myself out of a job!


There is a role for over-educated clinicians in the field of music therapy. I see this role as educational on a personal level - providing examples of theory-based therapy in the workforce. Music therapists will never be fully accepted by members of other professions until we display a well-rounded profession. I provide an example of music therapy that is theoretically sound and approachable. This is important to the longevity of our profession.


Just some fired-up ramblings. Off to work on Monday!

The life of a cat is a simple one, wait for the big things that provide food to worship us. - Bella

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I love it when a plan comes together...
Or, in my case, when everything just starts to click! I found the drill power cord, the book I needed to read showed up, and I have found a Ph.D.-worthy research focus!!!! Life is good.

I also have an entire week of vacation left.

Sigh!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Getting Ready
So, I've fallen deep into the great Lawrence triangle. Haven't heard of it? It's the lesser known phenomenon that is centered around my apartment. Basically, the Lawrence triangle causes things to disappear! Every little thing that I need disappears as soon as I need it. The adapter cord to the drill, the phone book, hammers, mops,...you name it, if I need it, it disappears. So, to fool the great Lawrence triangle, I am currently making archive copies of CDs for use at work and deciding how to use the songs in therapy sessions.
I am also watching lots of movies during this break. The eventual goal is to have all of the things that I need to take to LMC in the car by next Saturday. I need to make several visual aid containers for the cabinets. I have several instruments to take back to LMC and lots of scarves, beanbags, and props that I kept at home after my sabbatical at KU.
I've been thinking alot about the therapeutic process of fostering the skills of others. As a clinical supervisor, I have many opportunities to evaluate my own therapy skills while teaching others. I also really want to develop the skills of each intern - helping them be the best therapist they can be. It is an interesting way to view therapy, and the path I think I will always pursue. It is nice to have a focus.
I'M FOCUSED! This will really help my focus at school. Now I need to get disciplined about writing and making my case to my professors! The final frontier!!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Frustrations or Challenges? You decide!
There are times when even the simplest of chores ends up frustrating me horribly! Right now, the chore is cleaning the apartment and then taking stock of what I have to take to work. I am in the middle of constructing a bookshelf for some of my books, and the drill has gone dead. I have a power cord for it somewhere, but I am at a loss as to where the cord is at this moment! The mess has taken over!!

So, at this point right now, I am stuck with an 8-foot, half-constructed shelf sitting on the living room floor waiting for 8 more screws. I have looked everywhere online for a replacement power cord - no luck - and will be deconstructing all of the progress that I have made in the past 5 days looking for the cord that I already have in my possession. All of this before I feel that I can tackle the materials and equipment that I need to sort through for work purposes.

My life is cluttered. It is amazing that I can accomplish anything in this much mess! Oh well, off to scour the place for the power cord! I'll straighten some things out along the way.