Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This is my stumbling block, my weakest link, my bugaboo. I am not able to clearly organize research. Unfortunately, in a Ph.D. world, research is king, research is all. I struggle with understanding what I statistical analysis I should run to find answers to my research questions. I struggle with clear reviews of literature, I struggle with finding interesting topics - EVERYTHING is a struggle for me.

Having said that, I do enjoy asking questions and hearing what others think. I like descriptive research, especially surveys of clinicians working with interns and practicum students. I feel so lonely in my rural school, away from other therapists, and I like to know what others are doing. I want to know the answers to many different questions.

For example,

  1. What is the greatest challenge that you face as an internship supervisor?
  2. What skill is most important for interns to know before starting your site?

Just a sample of what is to come from me.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Blood...
I had a new intern start her internship yesterday. I am always a bit apprehensive about a new intern fitting in to the mix of characters at my facility. I tend to pace, I don't sleep well, and I am very concerned about the interns that are currently at the facility getting along with the new one. I think this one will be perfectly fine, but I still had all of the same old doubts.

My population is children and adolescents with developmental and psychiatric disorders. They are notorious for less than desirable social interaction skills, so I always warn visitors and interns that they will need to model appropriate introduction skills. My students are more likely to talk about a person rather than introduce themselves.

Two interns ago, I had just finished with my talk about how students would be likely to talk about the intern in front of her face rather than using appropriate skills such as introducing themselves, when we had to go to an inservice. We sat down in the room and the principal of the school walked in. The first thing out of her mouth was, "MJ, who's that person?" I started to laugh and explain to the intern that there was a reason we all were happy providing services in special education settings. Sometimes the staff need to work on their social skills as well as the students.

We will see what happens with intern 11. I hope the principal has learned to introduce herself to strangers in the past six months. If not, I'll have to write her a social story song to remind her of the process!!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Music for relaxation...and me

So, I am a music therapist, so it would stand to reason that music would be relaxing to me, right? You would certainly think so, but I find it not to be the case. I have found that music has become a puzzle rather than a completely sensory experience. This has shifted what I do to relax away from listening to music and into speech-related stimulation.

The other night, I was experiencing some insomnia. I kept waking and then lying in bed waiting for sleep to come. As I waited, I got more tense about not sleeping. This led to more insomnia. My mom, an OT, gave me a combination yoga, aroma, music sleep system that proports to enduce delta wave patterns in the brain and assist with sleep. I'm game for anything, so I put the CD on and started the process,

The music was very predictable, the sounds flowed through my auditory system, and I remained wide awake. I attempted progressive muscle relaxation with the music (PMR being the only relaxation technique that I am able to participate in without getting distracted by the musical stimulus) and found myself busy analyzing the musical patterns and chords in a technical manner. You know what, I blame my theory teachers!

I listen to music actively. I listen for chord changes, modulations, and exposition. I thrill with lyrics and find myself fully engaged in music when it occurs. This does not lead to relaxation for me, rather, stimulation. If there is music in the background, I am often unable to let it be a background figure. I am always aware of the music in restaurants, much to my friends' amusement. I actively engage in the musical experience, making music the center of my attention.

Why is this so? Who knows. I know that music is an important part of my life and one that I would not want to give up for anything. I also know that music is not a relaxation tool at this time. I will keep trying.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Relearning Relaxation
In the life of a therapist, choir director, student, daughter, and friend, there are many obstacles to the art of relaxation. I dart from place to place and rarely sit quietly without working on some project. There are things that I want to do, things that I need to be doing, and things that SHOULD be done already. So, it is rare when I get or have to sit quietly. Yesterday was one such day. I did not sleep well and when it was time to go to work, I found that my lower extremities ached to the point of incapacitation. Now, I have been recently exposed to Fifth Disease, a little virus that causes joint pain and malaise, but I also have a tendency towards arthritis, so was not sure what the situation was with me. I called in on the first therapy day of the new year.

I spent the day on my back under every heavy blanket and pillow that I could find, seeking some relief from the pain in my legs and back. The day was spent seeking sleep rather than finding it. I also remained project free for the entire day.

This morning, I woke up with remnants of the pain still around, but I got to thinking that I would probably be healthier if I learned to relax and stopped trying to multi-task every second of every day.

SO, how to do that? That is my question and my goal for myself this year - learning to relax. My sister and a good friend surprised me with a plane ticket to Europe for this summer, and my first thought was, "I don't know what to do on a vacation where I don't have music therapy responsibilities!" What a sad commentary on my life status. So, relax, don't sweat the small stuff, take one day at a time, and we shall see how long this lasts!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year, New Focus

It is time for new thoughts and new goals. The new year offers me an opportunity to establish professional goals and evaluate the types of treatment that I offer my clients. I will offer my professional goals here on this blog in an effort to keep myself on track during 2008. We shall see how it works...
  1. I will update my Therapeutic Musical Experience file for the benefit of my session planning process and for my interns. I will focus on goal identification when I am arranging the file. This is an ongoing process and an ongoing goal.
  2. I will complete my 3 publishable products in the spring semester, allowing me to continue onto my dissertation. Each of these products will be outcome-based training oriented and will increase knowledge of clinical training techniques in the music therapy field.
  3. I will design several methods for teaching music theory to persons with developmental and psychiatric diagnoses. I will test these methods with my clients, refining and compiling results into music therapy protocol.
  4. I will have fun.
  5. I will make music everyday.
  6. I will listen to my interns.
  7. I will complete all my professional responsibilities as assigned by my boss.
  8. I will focus on each day as a separate entity and make goals that are appropriate to that one day.

What a list of things to do during the year. I hope that there will be many posts updating my progress or lack thereof in the near future.

Time to clean the apartment - my office area is a mess, but there are many other areas to organize and clean before I can get all of the office stuff out. January's personal goal is to clean every inch of carpet in the apartment. This will involve things such as cleaning out, throwing away, building, repairing, organizing, and labeling as much as possible. I am making a slow start, but I am starting. I wish I could organize my home as easily as my professional goals!

January 1, 2008 - a year full of promise and opportunity. Here I go...