Showing posts from 2010
The Post-Conference Haze

I can confidently say that I am now recovered from my time in Cleveland last week. I spent most of my time in Cleveland in meetings, networking, and answering questions. I experienced several things that I have never experienced before, specifically the Assembly of Delegates meeting. Wow. I can only say that I never want to be on the Assembly. The amount of concentration needed to be an informed representative is immense. I do not think I can do it.

I went to one concurrent session during the week. The presenter was talking about vocal improvisation and had some interesting vocal/verbal techniques. Some of my clients are nonverbal, so the techniques presented are not relevant as presented, but I am able to adapt. I wish I had been able to attend more things during the conference, but I recognize that my new positions within the association have pretty much killed that experience for me. I will probably not present myself next year. That ate up some concurrent se…
Conference #2

My first meeting as a committee chair is over! I am relieved that it is over. I really enjoy spending time with the members of the committee and they are fun to be around, but the act of sitting and talking for 10 hours is wearing on a body that is used to moving all the time. I realized that I rarely sit still.

I have not made any music today, or yesterday either. That is very unusual for me. I am always singing, keeping beats, and playing music. I did not listen to anything musical today either. How strange is that??

Off to the next meeting - I do not have to chair this one, and I shouldn't actually have to speak, either. Whew.

...and so am I.

I am in the current mecca for US Music Therapists, eating food court chinese food and watching television. This is the life, hunh? I arrived after my very first full-body scan at the first airport. Both of my flights came in early, and my bag arrived with me! This is starting to be a banner conference year for me. My early conferences were not so easy. Should I be worried?? Nah.
I think I have finally arrived.

As a therapist/clinician/researcher/student of music therapy, I have enjoyed being involved with music therapists throughout my profession. The first conference I attended was in 1989. We gathered in Kansas City, and it was my first experience as a music therapist. I was a sophomore at a local university, and a bunch of us went to the conference together. I signed up to proctor several sessions, including a memorable session about how to write questions for the Board Certification examination. After that, the seniors took pity on me and took me …
Defining Yourself...

I have found myself in the unusual (for me) position of having to completely define my purpose and role in my facility. The reason this is so unusual at my facility is that music therapy has been an integral part of the treatment of clients since the doors opened way back in 1969. Music therapy has always been a part of the experience of children and adolescents who lived at the facility. The unusual position is that the current Director of Clinical Intervention has NO clue what I do. This was illustrated in a paper that he recently gave to me.

Music therapy was relegated to one sentence in the section entitled "Recreational Activities."

When I read that, I was flabbergasted.

It explained a lot.

A bit of background information to catch you, dear reader, up on the situations that are occurring.

The first thing that has happened is that we have had a complete change in leadership at the administrative level in the past three years. We have been through several c…
Thinking about Therapy

The definition of therapy, according to, is: 1. the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process; 2. a curative power or quality; 3. psychotherapy; 4. any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.

As a music therapist, I feel that my particular brand of therapy is that of rehabilitating rather than curative. I do not think that music therapy can cure disease or completely ameliorate the effect of a syndrome or disorder. I do, however, believe that music therapy can address issues and provide different avenues for gaining skills than other forms of therapeutic intervention.

Out of the four definitions above, I feel that #1 and #4 are the most relevant definitions for music therapists. I am not a psychotherapist. I do not practice psycho-dynamic music therapy techniques and do not feel that psycho-analytical music therapy is the philosophical fit for me. I feel that I can be a music therapist…
The importance of an hour

I am going to work a bit later than usual today. I generally get to work an hour before I am required to report, primarily because I am an early riser and enjoy some quiet time in my room before others arrive. Today, however, I needed to finish up a Netflix movie before sending it back, so I am staying at home until 6:30.

I have an hour-long commute, so I can predict my arrival at work pretty well every day. I have been tempted over the years to give up that commute and move closer to work, but I have found that I need that time to slough off my day as well as get ready for being home. I use that hour to mull over issues, practice singing, think about my life, and contemplate things that need to be contemplated.

The hour is a unit of time that defines my professional life as well. I provide hour-long and half hour sessions to my clients. I also have hour-long interdisciplinary sessions on Fridays. An hour is enough time to engage clients in musical experiences a…
Turns out, it's not all me...

So, I've been thinking about the difficulties that I had last week. I went back into the team setting, looking at the behavior of all of the folks that I work with in that setting. While my attitude is not the best in that setting, there were other things at play.

The interns did a good job of playing games. They ran around and spent lots of time interacting with students - exactly what they should have been doing the week before. It was good to see that they had decided to get involved. It saved us a talk. They still spent some time standing against the wall, but only after most kids had left the session. It was a relief that we didn't have to have "that" talk.

The physical education staff is burned out. All of their interactions with students are centered around what kids are not doing right. There is very little that is positive in the gym these days. The situation is such that both the teacher and the para educator are tired of bein…
Getting over myself...

The self that I bring to my interactions at work is often difficult to describe. I am human and sometimes get in a snit over small things. For example, on Friday I was irked that my new interns, recovering from behavior management training, were not interacting with kids during their day. I had asked them to join the activity, and they did not. Then, I got irked because the other two "team mates" on the team, people who are supposed to be good role models, were not participating either. What a mess. So, I spent time sitting in my office eating junk for lunch. I did not address this issue with anyone but one of the team mates that I mentioned earlier. She responded, "we all have had times where we sat on our butts." I agree with that, but responded, "Not after a direct request from my supervisor."

There are several things that contributed to the emergence of this particular self. I am not feeling well for no apparent reason. This is a …
And so it begins...

My new interns started two days ago. I always start them off on a Friday because it is the day where I do not have to do as much therapy as Monday through Thursday. Interns arrive, get a brief tour as we turn in paperwork to HR, and then we move into Music, Movement, Art and Rhythmic Sensations (MMARS). For the next 5 hours, interns get to run around playing games with all of the students that attend school at my facility. Then, after we have played tag, sang songs, completed an art project, attempted to develop our gross motor coordination. we move into orientation. The end of the day, after I have staggered the poor things with 4 pages of assignments, the dismissal policy, and other orientation information, I always ask for questions. The interns never have any.

These two have some advantages and some disadvantages.

The advantages -
I have had a nice long break from being an internship director. That is a good thing and something that I will schedule in from now on..…
Home, sick

Yesterday and today I have called in sick from work. I tend to get sick quite a bit during the course of my job - a combination of kid germs, allergies, and a predisposition to respiratory issues. What is unusual for me is the need and willingness to take two days off in a row.

Needless to say, I am going to be the subject of much conjecture at work today. Taking one day off is not that unusual, but two in a row? Before a school holiday? Hmmmm. There will be some who will think that I am off on some wild adventure (HA!). Others will grump and grouse that they would have liked to have taken the time off, too.

I am a firm believer in the use of sick days when they are needed. My current ailment requires me to remain in a reclining position for much of the time while battling a low grade fever. I do not know if I am contagious, but you can bet that if I am, the same ones grumping and grousing in the previous paragraph would be grumping and grousing about how I shared my germs wit…
Preparing for the Newbies...

My new interns are coming in two weeks. I have taken some time getting ready for them, and I am just about ready to start my role as supervisor again. I have spent the last 6 months getting back into the groove of being a therapist and do not want to lose that role as I become a supervisor again. The next interns will have a very different internship than the previous interns.

How to balance multiple roles?

Therapist - my preferred role in the music therapy clinic - leading sessions, developing therapeutic relationships with others, and using music to interact with others.

Supervisor/Teacher - showing others how to become the best therapist they can be.

Leading by example, cutting the apron strings, and then watching them fly away. Aah, the challenges ahead for us all.
New Year's Resolutions

It is getting close to the start of a new school year. This is generally the time that I start to make resolutions. For some reason, as a school music therapist, the school year start is always more important for making plans than the start of the calendar year. This year's resolutions are about the same as other years - move into dissertation and work hard.

I am happy to report that I made progress towards both resolutions last year.

Off to buy new school supplies...

Happy New Year!
Camp - Day Two

Today was the second day of camp. I had an opportunity to use drums of an excellent music therapist, entrepreneur, and all-around good guy, Barry Bernstein. Barry, AKA Bongo Barry, passed away last September very suddenly. His death was unexpected and shook the music therapy world as well as the camping world deeply. I appreciate the use of his instruments and hope that his family know how much we loved Bongo Barry at camp.
It is time for camp again. I am immersed in the world of autism and Asperger's and am enjoying every second of it! I got some hugs today from campers that remembered me from last year. What a great feeling.

I ran both arts and crafts and music therapy today. The first MT group was gypped out of a good experience because it was raining. The guitar and instruments had to stay in the car. The other two groups rocked! Literally as well as figuratively! We engaged in several improvisations and let things develop from there. Kids were taking turns, improvising melodies and lyrics, indicating that they were interested in what was going on, and generally acting just like kids at camp!

What is it about camp that makes some things easier to handle?

I saw campers with significant developmental issues sitting with their peers, arms around each other, and singing loudly. I saw campers engaging in interactive play - something that is difficult for many of the kids in other settings. I saw a l…
New Moon

Yesterday was the new moon. You hear lots of things about the effect of a full moon on people, but you rarely, if ever, hear about the effect of the new moon.

For me, a new moon often means headaches, a general feeling of snarkitude, and a lack of focus. I see effects in my clients as well. Yesterday afternoon, a young man entered the music room upset. He tends to get very hysterical about things very fast. He started one of his verbal loops and escalated quickly from participating to screaming, "Maybe Thursday...Stop Screaming..." and other phrases during the session. There was no soothing him. There was no opportunity to assist him musically. There were no antecedents.

At that time, I completely understood how he felt. I had been feeling similarly myself. A situation arose where I had made a decision, made a glaring error in how the decision was conveyed, and then spent the rest of the time engaged in arguments with the person who needed the decision. Every time I ch…
Future Glimpses

What do you think the world will be like for music therapists in twenty years? I have thoughts of therapists singing songs by Madonna, Michael Jackson (before the weird stuff happened), and Guns and Roses to get the attention of us post-boomers. Music therapy lecturers will be talking about the eighty years of music therapy in the States, and how much the changes in music therapy have taken us forward.

Do you think that there will be more music therapists involved with AMTA? Do you think we will even have an AMTA? Will therapists have to spend more time in assessment, evaluation, and paperwork rather than doing direct treatment? What will happen?

The possibilities are staggering...
Did you know?

...that music therapists are a unique brand of people? If you are reading this, then of course you do! Each music therapist approaches the act of therapy based on his or her experiences, ideas, interests, talents, relationships, and clients. Every session is completely different and that is the way it should be.

I am a music therapist.

I have often fell into the trap of comparing myself to others. The "I should be doing..." trap. I remember sitting in a presentation about music in geriatric settings and thinking, "I should know all the words to My Merry Oldsmobile." I felt that I was not a good music therapist because of my lack of knowledge. I then engaged in some cognitive retraining and thought, "I may not know that song, but most of these folks couldn't sing a Britney Spears song if their life depended on it." It was like a lightbulb went on over my head. I wasn't an inadequate therapist, I was the perfect therapist for the clients …
The Therapeutic Use of Self

Music therapy is a combination of client, music, and therapist. We do not often discuss the use of therapists in the therapeutic relationship, but the therapist is a key to the success or failure of music therapy.

I have a slight headache today and have not slept as much as I needed to last night. This will affect my interactions today. I will try to remain consistent, positive, and focused on others during the day. This is perhaps the most difficult part of being a therapist - ignoring the personal in favor of the therapeutic.

To be a therapist, you have to find the balance between "you" and "therapist." I take my baggage with me into every session. I will be taking my current insomnia, my slight headache, and my current outlook on life, my job, etc. into every session. I can try to stuff all of that deep into me and not let it affect my life, or I can use it as part of therapy to assist me in working with my clients.

The challenge is to wa…
June 5, 2010

In the past two days, I have been the flag carrier for the behavioral movement in music therapy. I have tried to demonstrate the commonalities between music therapists rather than the differences. It has been an interesting exercise as I do not think in the same terms as folks from different philosophical backgrounds. I am enriching my vocabulary and nomenclature with every post.

Others have started to speak up as well. We have had several posts where people have protested the anti-behavioral climate of the listserv, the negative criticism of presentations offered through our organization, and general dissatisfaction with some of the things that occur on the listserv. This is good, healthy, and needed so we can become a more cohesive group of professionals.

The other thing that has happened in the past two days is that I am on the organizing committee of the first online conference for music therapy. It is scheduled for March 5-6, 2011 and will probably take up some time. It…
Getting Fed Up and Opening Your Big Mouth...

I did it. I got defensive and upset at a blowhard from the music therapy listserv yesterday. He stated, "If we were to lean on this concept toward defining music therapy, those practicing from a behavioral orientation would be shut out"in reference to understanding our clients through their music. I got defensive and wrote about it in a response. He backtracked and stated that he did not mean that we would be shut out of the profession, even though that was what he intimated in the email. I received several statements of support, especially regarding my plea to stop knocking other philosophical viewpoints in favor of your own.

Then, I started to think about how I understand my clients through their music. I imagine my understanding is much like any other therapist's understanding. I may translate their music a bit differently, but I am still engaging in analyzing their rhythms, tempos, melodies, harmonies, dissonances, consonan…
Defining Music Therapy

The next problem taking over the listserve right now is a debate between two VERY active philosophical types. How do we define an undefinable profession?

Here is the AMTA definition:

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program (American Music Therapy Association, 2010).

I find myself explaining what music therapy is through the AMTA definition - which is very vague - and then through examples of what music therapists do in their sessions. The AMTA definition is never sufficient to illustrate what we do with clients. I find that examples provide a clearer picture of what music therapy is and can be...

Why is it so difficult to define our profession?

Part of the problem is that music therapists have vastly different job responsibilities, therapeutic aims, and techniques. There …
Marketing to the Music Therapist

I am in the process of designing products for music therapists, music educators, and others interested in music-enhanced education. I am trying to figure out how to demonstrate my tools and products to music therapists who work with children and adolescents in educational settings. I guess I will try to do some stuff through the listserve.

One of the blessings and disadvantages to being a music therapist is the difficulty in defining our profession. Each of us offers a very different music therapy experience to our clients. This makes things complicated because what I find to be an important tool might not be important to any other music therapist.

So, why are we so very different? I think there is variation because of the nature of music and the nature of each member of the therapeutic experience. I get to change my nature with each set of clients that enter the music therapy room. My music changes as well to accommodate client interests, preferences, an…
Looking Forward

One of my favorite songs right now is an arrangement/medley of I'm Yours and Somewhere Over the Rainbow sung by the acappella group, Straight No Chaser. It is a bouncy arrangement and keeps me smiling as well as increasing my energy level.

When I look back over my music preferences over the years, they share several elements in common. The first is the lyrics. I am genuinely affected by lyrics. There is something about words that stick with me. The second is a melodic and harmonic structure that accentuates the lyrics presented.

For me, music needs to be a complete entity. You cannot separate the music from the words. It is not something that can be done. Music is a combination of notes, counterpoint, chordal support, and words that convey a message. I am not a big fan of music without words.

I had a wild hair a while ago about the importance of tempo in music preference. It stemmed from several interactions that I had with several clients during music therapy treatmen…
Day 5...

The fifth day of the Summer vacation has started off in an auspicious manner. The cat, not enjoying the fact that I was finally starting to get into the groove of sleeping in and relaxing, decided to eat a plant and upchuck on the bedspread. I hope this is not a portent of what is to come.

Progress has been made on the craft room. I have removed lots of the plastic shelving that has stored junk, so there is more room to move. I have sorted through years and years of accumulated paperwork, memories, and junk. I will be tossing things into the trash bin today. What a rejuvenating feeling!

There is still more to do, but I have a nice start going.

In addition to clearing out the junk room, I have been organizing my thoughts about music therapy. One of my former interns announced that she is now selling insurance in addition to working in music therapy part-time. It is difficult to watch as music therapists cannot afford to be music therapists in this current economic climate. I am f…
Day 4

It is the fourth day of my vacation. I have tackled the craft/junk room in the back of my home and am currently in the middle of sorting, trashing, and donating materials and junk that I have had for many years. In addition, I am trying to make that space more functional.

I guess, in a way, I am using this break to do the same thing. I am throwing out my therapeutic "junk" and am making myself more functional as a therapist. I am taking out my attitudes, skills, opinions, and questions, dusting them off, and reorganizing them.

Attitude reorganization tasks:
"I can fix everything." There is no way that this can happen. There are things that are not my responsibility. I have to take responsibility for only the things that I can change and let the rest go."I should be..." The problem with this one is my attitude towards life. I am a perfectionist who strives to do the "best" in everything. I often judge myself harshly and have a difficult time ju…
It's here...Finally.

I am on vacation for the next 17 days. I have some things to do, but most of my vacation goals have nothing to do with music therapy.

Priority one is the craft room. Actually, a more accurate description of that place is the apartment black hole. It is my hope that I will have a place to work on my crafting projects, on my visual aid development, and on my sewing.

This break offers an opportunity for me to refresh my enjoyment of music therapy. It will work. It always does.
Reflecting over the year

The end of the school year is the most important ending for me. As a therapist who works in a school setting, the end of May allows me to reflect on another year gone and over. The calendar year ending is irrelevant to me as a school therapist.

I enjoy the end of the school year. We work year-round, so this ending is really just a formality, but it is still an ending. We have a two-week break before the summer session begins, so I have a chance to sit at home and breathe deeply.

This year, 2009-2010, has been an interesting year. Our principal is in her second year of leading us, we have had a couple of crises in the residential side of our program, and people have had a difficult time adjusting to changes that have occurred in the past nine months.

I, personally, have had an interesting year as well. I have completed the training process of my 15th intern and decided to take a break from training. I am working towards my last remaining projects for my Ph.D., and …

I am part of a young profession. I do not mean that music therapy is not an established profession with a research base, but I mean that the majority of people that are in the music therapy clinics and jobs of today are young. As a Ph.D. candidate who does not intend to move into a university teaching position, I have often faced questions about my resistance to moving out of the clinic.

I find that new professionals often believe what they learned in their university programs, chapter and verse. I know that I did. I graduated, went out into the real world, and expected everything to work exactly like my professors and internship supervisors told me. It did not work that way. I lacked the ability to shift my expectations at the beginning of my career. It was a skill that I learned after some time. I had to adapt and develop my own way of approaching music therapy in order to survive as a therapist.

Breaking away from what I was told to expect was the best thing that I could ha…
Eleven Days and Counting...

We have ten more days of school left for the 2009-2010 year. Music therapy sessions are taken up right now with graduation song rehearsal, talent show panics, and a little bit of therapy going on. There are times when I get caught up in the excitement of the end of the school year, and there are times when I just sit and think about how much there is to do before the summer session starts in 27 days.

In eleven days, I will be on vacation, A break, a rest, a time away from the rest of the world. I will have completed another school year, another year of church choir, and another year of working towards my Ph.D. I have made good progress this past year in both my professional and personal goals.

In the next ten days, I have to keep myself focused on the kids that I work for. Their treatment is, as always, more important than getting the words completely right during graduation. It is more important than whether I put everything back in its place in the music roo…
Taking a Break

It is almost time for my annual summer break. This year, I get 17 days of freedom as I have some vacation days stored just for this occasion. The fact that this break starts on my 40th birthday offers me some time to contemplate the inevitability of growing older as well as to refresh my therapeutic "juices."

I have always been interested in the concept of burnout. This is especially true as I work with people who are in a period of burnout and who attempt to expose the rest of us to their way of thinking. I occasionally find myself souring to the idea of working a) as a therapist, and b) at my particular facility. When this happens, I have to take a break.

My breaks take several forms.

Often, I stop eating lunch in the staff lounge. My very wise professor once told me, "if you enjoy your job, stay out of the staff lounge." The lounge is the place where disgruntled employees go to gritch and complain about everything that is wrong with their lives. Often…
Another Week

It is the beginning of another week of music therapy sessions. Today is "long music" day #1 - basically, sessions last for 50 minutes each rather than the 30 minutes on "short music" days. Students always ask, "Is this long music day?" I'm not sure if they are happy or disgruntled about the change in session times. It's a mystery.

Today's sessions are with my younger kids, with my more challenging behavior-oriented kids, and with my more severely involved kids. Mondays and Wednesdays tend to include basic academic and preacademic concepts, general movement, and lots of sensory experiences for the clients. We will start with an opening song (of course, and if this marks me as an "activity therapist", so be it!!), move into a motor task, and finish with more cognitive tasks. As my primary focus is to develop impulse control skills and appropriate expression of emotion in my kids, I can fit almost everything I plan under the …
Finding your center

I am starting to work out after work with several of my work friends. This is a big step for me because I have, until now, felt that exercise was difficult to fit into my schedule. The lack of interns has offered me some extra time, so, being a typical Type-A personality, have had to find something to fill that extra time.


I am doing Tae-bo and Biggest Loser tapes with my friends, and I am trying to do yoga DVDs on my own. I have always enjoyed the thought of yoga, but the balance required will probably always be a challenge for me. I am trying to find my center in my balance centers as well as in life.

How do you find your center? Do you schedule in different activities? Do you just live in the moment?

I find mine in several ways. I read. I read lots of things that are not related to my professional life. Quite frankly, music therapy texts put me to sleep. I play with my cat, and I talk to my family as often as I can. I craft, I write, and I develop things to…

I received notice that my professor friends are no longer teaching their music therapy students to refer to music in their treatment objectives.

All I could find to say is, "Ergh."

How can we be music therapists if we do not refer to music in our treatment objectives????

If I write an objective that does not refer to music, there is no mandate for including a music therapist on the treatment team. Anyone can complete the objective.
What's This?
So, I just reviewed some comments about writing goals and objectives where a professor stated that she teaches her students to write objectives without referencing music. This concept really confuses me. If we do not reference music, what makes music therapy objectives uniquely music therapy objectives?

When I attended the same school, we were told that music was a requirement for writing objectives. I feel the same way to this day. How can we justify music therapy services if we are not demonstrating the unique nature of music as a therapeutic medium?

Here is the objective in question...

When cued by song lyrics, the client will play the instrument 2 out of 5 trials for 3 consecutive sessions with no more than 2 sung prompts.

Now, what I am not sure about is, do I remove all references to music or musical equipment or both??

Again, why would I want to remove all of those references? One of the fundamental issues in music therapy in special education services is the questio…
Balance in Everything

This can be a challenge...finding the balance in all things. I find myself constantly shifting from one side of life to the other. Overemphasis on work leads to neglect of the schoolwork. Focusing on the schoolwork often leads to neglect of the personal life. It is difficult to find the perfect balance.

This week has been Holy Week in the Christian calendar. As a church choir director as well as a music therapist, my life has been tipping towards work more than anything else this week. I am trying to find the balance rather than getting focused on the lack of time that is available.

My focus for Lent this year has been to try to find the silver linings in all situations, especially those that hurt my feelings or make me VERY cranky normally. The amount of cognitive retraining that this effort has taken recently has been enormous. I have found that my attitude, my outlook, my relationships with others have greatly improved during the past 40 days. I have also been ab…
I have found them!

I have met my next two interns. They will be arriving simultaneously and moving through my program at the same time (I have never done that before). I am going to take advantage of the next 5 months to revamp my internship and get ready for 2 new ones!

Other than that, my return to full-time therapy has been unremarkable. Kids still ask when the "new girl" is coming, but they seem to accept the statement that no one will be here until September. This is good as they are still happy to see me!

I am enjoying the challenge of developing Therapeutic Music Experiences for my students. I have set aside an hour per week (minimum) to develop new ideas. I also have opportunities to rewrite my old TME's and put them in an electronic form rather than in my card file. I am also getting my clinic put back together in a way that suits me rather than the way that interns think it should go...

You would think that 6.5 hours of straight therapy sessions would be w…
Getting Ready for the First Day
Tomorrow is my first day without an intern in over 3 years. I do have an intern applicant coming for an interview, but no official interns. My room is my room. My kids are my kids. I am ready.

Unfortunately, I do not have a plan for my sessions yet. I will start with a welcome back to school song - This probably marks me as an "activity therapist," but I find that my students welcome the routine of an opening song. We will review the expectations of the music therapy session - every one is safe during the session, raising hands if a person wants a turn, the therapist is in charge - and then get into the process of music therapy.

I'm thinking Orff improvisation tomorrow.
Time for Therapy
Next week, for the first time in 3 and 1/2 years, I will be the only music therapist in my music therapy clinic. This may sound like a bad thing, but it is something that I have been looking forward to for the last 6 months.

I am a music therapy internship director. I love being a clinical trainer, and enjoy the challenges of helping others learn about being music therapists. I have trained 8 therapists in a row (a first for me) and am now ready to take some time on my own.

I enjoy music therapy.

I love the opportunity to find the song that clients will respond to during the session. I like planning my sessions, just to change my plans when clients need something different. I thrive on playing instruments with my clients, improvising music that fills needs.

I am looking forward to being the only one in my music therapy clinic for the next 6 months. Things will stay where I want them to be, all successes and failures in the session will be mine and mine alone, and I can lis…
Therapeutic Three




I've been thinking about the therapeutic triad lots lately, pondering the ways that the three elements of music therapy act, react, and interact. This philosophical exercise of mine is one that allows me to deepen my understanding of music as a therapeutic medium, keeps me engaged in the therapeutic process even when I a participant in the music therapy exercise, and allows me to further infuriate other therapists who do not view music therapy the way I do.

In my work with novice therapists, e.g., interns, practicum students, etc., I often find that they do not have a grasp on how the therapeutic relationship begins and develops. They are either skewed heavily on the therapist side, offering scripted therapy experiences that do not allow for client direction, or they are completely client directed with no thought about what the therapist should bring to the experience. It is very rare for someone to be skewed towards the music.

Need I point out at th…
Teaching therapy

I am taking a break from being a teacher/trainer. As ,much as I love being an internship director, I find that there are times when I just need to be the therapist. It has been over 3 years since I have been completely alone in my music therapy clinic. Eight interns later, I am ready for a break!

I find that some interns are easy to teach. They think like I think, learn how I learn best, and just seem to have an inherent bent towards therapeutic interaction with my particular clientele. Those are the interns that are simply a joy to point in the right direction and then watch them fly away.

Then there is the other brand of intern. These interns are challenges in many ways. Sometimes they do not learn in a way that is easy for me to understand. Sometimes they are not interested in being a music therapist, but have to because of their families. Sometimes they come to me thinking that they have learned everything there is to know about music therapy and I am not going to ge…
Snarkity, snark, snark, snark!
Why do we insist on picking at each other?

There is a controversy on the listserv - AGAIN - about professional supervision. I find it interesting that there is a population of music therapists appear to feel that they are the only folks who can survive as therapists, and then only when they follow their tenets. The rest of us are merely "activity" therapists, providing our clients with sing-a-long therapy rather than in-depth, meaningful music experiences.


There is a very different set of expectations for therapists based on philosophical views.

Why can't we all just get along??
The Therapeutic Function of Music
So, why music anyway?

I ponder that thought often during my day. As the daughter of an Occupational Therapist, I often have ideas for interventions that do not need the structure of music to be therapeutic. I am challenged to see if the behavior of my clients changes when music is in the atmosphere or if they would complete therapeutic goals and tasks in the same manner without music. Sometimes, it is difficult to know.

But, I am a music therapist rather than an OT (a fact that my mother laments). Therefore, all of my interventions should be musical in nature if not in substance.

I am getting ready to revamp my internship to increase intern awareness of the therapeutic function of music in sessions. So, I am challenging myself to start thinking this way as well.

So far, I have come up with several questions that spur my thinking on towards therapeutic rationales for music in therapy. They are as follows:
Why would you need music to complete this goal/object…