Sunday, June 29, 2008

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

So, I have come to accept the fact that our leader and boss is leaving. I am not happy about the situation, but the fact is that she has to do what is best for her. I have to do what is best for me. I am ready to move on and see what the future holds.

I know the immediate future holds lots of uncertainty and grief on the part of my coworkers. I tend to be a person who grieves deeply but briefly - stormy bouts of emotion followed by logical thought and acceptance. I also tend to understand many points of view when it comes to the feelings of others. The therapist in me comes out, and I tend to be the person that listens to others as they grieve.

It is time to move forward and start the process of developing a team with a different, or even without, a team leader. Our best foot, as a team, is the level of care that we provide to our clients. We will be able to continue that level of care without our boss. There will probably be some increase the amount of staff squabbles and issues, but we can still work together for the good of our clients. We have to as a group, or we will not survive.

So, business as usual on Monday - music therapy groups all day, supervising an intern's first work with clients, preparation for an intern applicant's interview and audition, talking to friends and coworkers about our situation, wondering what our situation is and will be, and providing a note of optimism. Nothing much will change in the music room...I will still supervise interns, play the guitar, listen to Radio Disney CDs, read my email, feel tired at the end of the day, and carry on.

We will survive.

Friday, June 27, 2008

You think things are going along fine, and then, WHAM! A wall!!

I have always felt extreemly lucky to work for my boss. She is someone who genuinely cares for the people that work for her as well as for the people we serve. She is not afraid to tell it like it is and hope that it could be better. She understands the difference between therapy and education and is willing to allow us to implement our own ideas. She is also able to quash our unrealistic and petty situations.

I found out yesterday that my boss is leaving. This blog entry is part of my grieving process.

We all gathered for what we thought was going to be a happy meeting - we have had unhappy situations before - the facility closing between Christmas and New Year's, all of us unemployed, kids leaving in droves. So, we thought there would be a time to giggle and get together as a group to discuss our unifying theme. Our boss started the meeting with "There's no way to ease into this. Just rip the band-aid off. I'm leaving." The mood in the room immediately plummeted. One paraprofessional, a person who does not have many filters between her brain and mouth, yelled, "Traitor!" Most of us felt that it was true, even if the time and place wasn't quite appropriate. Our boss took it all in stride. She told us what she was going to be doing, dismissed the meeting, and then went to hide until we left the building.

It has been distressing and fascinating to watch my friends and colleagues go through the early stages of grief. Most of the staff members are in anger and betrayal stages of Kubler-Ross's DABDA stages of grief. I am quickly cycling through all of the stages with touches of Acceptance now and then. I did wake up extremely early this morning wondering what was wrong with me, and then remembered.

At this time, I am scared of what the future may bring to the staff at my facility. We will be leaderless for a time - hopefully a short time - but I have to believe that when God closes a door, he opens (at least) a window. I do not know what the process is for hiring a new boss at my facility - we are a strange facility funded through public monies but completely private.

I am hoping that the director of children's services steps up to the situation on Monday and tells us what to expect. I am hoping that our new boss is able to function in our setting with all of the feelings of hostility that are already starting to surface. I hope that the new boss will recognize the importance of music therapy to the clients served and to the history of the facility and will let me continue to run my own program. I am also hoping that I will not have to leave a job that I love for personality difficulties. I could go on, but this is getting too depressing.

Here are my hopes...

  1. We find a person so perfect for use that we are able to continue to serve the children that need us desperately.
  2. Music therapy continues to flourish in the facility, growing to accommodate new situations and new people.
  3. My friends and coworkers find their way to acceptance of this situation and start looking at the possibilities that are opening.
  4. We find ourselves a more cohesive team, able to address the challenges that are present while we are leaderless.

We will survive and become stronger for having this experience.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Just for Julie...
So, my friend Julie told me yesterday that she often looks at my blog and giggles at the way that I try to be all professional and serious about music therapy.
She also tries to guess who I'm referring to in my posts.
Here is a post just for Julie!
There are some folks who get it,
There are some folks who don't.
Some folks who try it,
Some folks who won't.
You know most of them,
You know that you do,
So try to solve riddles,
I'll give you some clues.
This person likes nothing,
Nothing at all,
Especially if
she isn't making the call.
I think there may be
More than just one,
But if I get more specific,
I'll ruin the fun.
These people try anything,
They're lots of fun,
``````````````````````````````````````````(Bella's helping me type - I hope she's done!)
I have many more,
But they are just rhymes,
I'm happy to chat with you,
All of the time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Protocol Development 101

One of my professors is big into the idea of "protocol development" as an important element of music therapy as a recognized profession in the allied health field. The idea that what we do as music therapists can be replicated by any music therapist once the protocol has been developed, tested, and refined. I have always been a bit confused by this idea - the way she sees it does not make sense to me, but I am starting to understand the concept in my own way. I'm also coming around to the opinion that established, evidence-based music therapy protocol are important to the field and to my own practice.

This lightbulb going on over my head has been forced upon me due to my circumstances at my place of employment. We have one class of adolescents with complex issues including intellectual, developmental, psychiatric, and physical conditions. The majority of the clients have a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum. Most of them are functionally nonverbal. They all have associated diagnoses based on traumatic experiences. They are a wonderful group of individuals - none of the group services that they receive are successful.

This particular group has challenged myself and all of the other service providers at my facility. The majority of sessions and services provided are in classroom group format due to the large caseload and limited time available for individual sessions. Therefore, the way I provided therapy had to change to accommodate 10 students who did not interact with each other.

Our first session with the new protocol happened on Thursday. I went back to a protocol that I had developed for one child with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum and adapted it for use with more students. The premise is this:

  1. Adolescents, such as these students, do not respond well to being told to sit and listen
  2. I do not like having to physically manage student behavior to ensure safety
  3. Choice is important
  4. Small groups provide opportunities for individual attention
  5. Short applications/Therapeutic Music Experiences provide for focused and targeted therapeutic interventions
  6. Paraprofessionals who are busy administering a station are not engaging in confilct spirals with students
  7. Reset periods allow students to shift attention away from concentration on staff-initiated activity
  8. All students can participate in all applications/TMEs how they prefer

The first session went as I had envisioned it. Students were engaged in the stations. Some wandered around their station area - perfectly fine for me - others engaged quickly in all stations. In order to decrease the amount of auditory stimuli, only one station involved active musicmaking. The other stations were music themed or sensory in nature. Paraprofessionals were engaged in learning how to administer the stations rather than following students around attempting to control their participation in the applications/TMEs.

The next session is on Monday. We will see if the success that I felt we accomplished on Thursday can be replicated. More information on testing and refining the protocol later.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Don't Worry - Not Another Rant...I PROMISE!

Sorry about the rant from yesterday. I get frustrated when folks are not professional in their communication with others. Anyway...

I am currently in day 10 of 13 days off - one of the perks to being a school-based music therapist. I have passed the "I'm completely bored" phase and am now in the "Let's get things going again" phase of vacation. I have a bunch of file folder activities that I need to finish assemblying, write up "how-to's" for my interns and fellow staff members, and then laminate. I find these applications of music in an independent format to be a good use of time for clients who finish tasks quickly. They can then use a file folder activity to fill in time during the group session. Other therapists also appear to like this idea, especially those who work with school-aged clients. I am hoping that this will turn into an online CMTE. It's lots of work, but I think it will be worth it when it gets finished.

There are lots of good ideas out there just waiting for someone to start them going. Let me know if you have any ideas.