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 clinical directors and currently have had this clinical director for approximately a year. He has been in my music therapy room twice in that time. The first time was to tell me that one of my clients was a musical savant (I disagreed in a respectful manner). The second time was two days ago when he marched through a session to talk to me about the paper he was writing for the clinicians on staff (a group that, until recently, I was not part of) about the form of the clinical program at the facility.

Now, in July, we had a major shift from our clinicians (social workers) being a part of the education portion of the facility to clinicians (social workers, psychologists, and licensed counselors) becoming part of the psychiatric treatment side of the facility. This was not a major change for me as I am still considered an education faculty member, but it significantly decreased the amount of interdisciplinary treatment that we provided to our students. All of a sudden clinicians did not document on the common documentation files that we had established. None of the new folks were introduced to any of the education staff members, and things were changing dramatically within the treatment process. Both the music therapy department and art therapy department were left out of the loop. Apparently because both of those therapeutic formats were considered to be "recreational" rather than therapeutic.

Several weeks ago I spent time talking to my supervisor about the current situation in the therapeutic realm at the facility. I felt extremely disconnected from the rest of the therapists. I felt that music therapy was not viewed as a viable treatment modality at the administrative level, and I wanted answers about where I fit in the treatment of our students. This discussion was spurred on by a situation where the art therapist was required to cancel art therapy in order to paint a mural on a wall. All of a sudden, art therapy was not considered to be as important as painting a wall.

I received an invitation to the weekly clinicians' meeting on Monday. I will have to arrive late as I have a session during the first half, but I am looking forward to being a part of this group. There are things that obviously have to be addressed, and I am trying to give the clinical team the benefit of the doubt that they really do not have a clue about music therapy.

I received a paper entitled "A look at the clinical program at ___" (facility name removed to protect those involved with the travesty).

The paper that I received was abysmal. The level of writing (in the third draft, no less) was expected from an elementary school student rather than a PhD. Sentences were incomplete, started with conjunctions, and paragraphs started supporting one idea and contradicted that same idea at the end of the paragraph. Reading the paper gave me a headache. I was dismayed that this was the possible way my clinical program was being represented to the world. I decided at that time to write my own paper.

I am now in the process of writing a paper that includes some of the information stated in the original paper but frames music therapy as an established treatment modality with children and adolescents with behavior and psychiatric disorders. This is a challenging exercise since I am not sure what my audience wants to know about music therapy, but it is obviously necessary to defend my position as a valuable member of the treatment team. In addition, it will be an important part of my future at the facility.


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