Posts

Showing posts from 2011

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas Eve. I am a Christian, so I celebrate Christmas as the second most important day of my year. 

I am also a therapist, so I not only appreciate the beliefs of others, but I fully support those beliefs as valuable and as important as the beliefs that I hold.

My clients have a variety of religious backgrounds and belief structures. In order to provide them with appropriate therapy in areas of spirituality, I have to understand their belief structure, respect those beliefs, and then work within those beliefs to reinforce the value of those beliefs for them.

I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Solstice, and Happy New Year! Please know that I wish all of you health, happiness, and enough challenge to keep you moving through life.

Blessings to you all!

Professional Bullies

It is amazing how some folks attempt to control others through intimidation and posturing behaviors. The "I'm better than you" attitude shines through in interactions and gets in the way of appropriate professional demeanor. I am currently involved in a situation where I am being harassed by a coworker. His entire form of communication with me is antagonistic, abrasive, and abusive. He yells, he makes inaccurate assumptions, and he tries to embarrass me in front of my clients and coworkers on a regular basis.

I have followed professional protocol by reporting these behaviors to my supervisor, and, when she didn't do anything, by filing a formal grievance with the school district. When we had our face-to-face meeting, he stated that he didn't want to fight because he was "there for the kids." Well, how nice.

We established some ground rules for professional interaction in the future. We established a code phrase to mean "back off" and leave. I am…

Getting Ready for an Online Conference

It is almost time for the second Online Conference for Music Therapy. For the record, I am on the Organizing Committee and am the treasurer for OCMT2012, so this post is brought to you by the fact that I am immersed in preparation for this conference. 

If you have never heard of this conference, don't be surprised, but please do check us out on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/groups/ocmt2012/; on Twitter #OCMT2012; or at our website: http://onlineconferenceformusictherapy.com/about-us/

Now, for the interesting part of this conference.

It is all done through an internet link on your computer. If you have the ability to stream the internet, you are able to access this conference. If you have a webcam and microphone, you can present at this conference. It really is that simple.

It is also lots of fun.

Please plan on joining us on February 18, 2012 for the second Online Conference for Music Therapy!

See you there.

Historical Figures

This last week I found myself in the unique situation of being 6 miles away from the sitting President of the United States. He made a speech in a small Kansas town just a short way away from my work. I was unable to go since I had to be at work and didn't have an entire weekend to stand in line for tickets, but this started me thinking about history.

The second event that occurred this week was the passing of Clive Robbins, music therapy historical figure. Dr. Robbins was an awe-inspiring figure in our profession, but he was also a quintessential therapist - gentle, concerned, and caring of others.

My most thrilling and personal interaction with Dr. Robbins occurred in San Diego, CA in 2009. I was standing in a dark corner of the gathering area presenting file folder experiences in the Clinical Practice Forum. There were lots of people walking around, unfortunately not music therapists but participants in a gymnastics competition - ugh. 

So, there I was, standing next to my homemade…

Ouch

Yesterday, I was knocked over by a student who was angry. I landed on my bottom hard, but didn't seem to be hurt other than just knocked around a bit. As the day progressed, however, my right Achilles tendon started to ache. I limped around the music room for the rest of the day and then limped to church and choir rehearsal.

When I got to my home and took off my shoe, I found a large bruise on my right ankle wrapping around to the back of my foot - there was a reason why my tendon was aching so much! I took today off from work to do the prescribed process - RICE - rest, ice, compression, and elevation - as well as some arthritis medication to help alleviate the pain of my fall.

This incident was a good reminder that I am not:
as young as I used to be,listening to what my clients are trying to tell me as well as I could, and able to do everything.I fully believe that we are led to what we need to hear or realize when it is appropriate. I needed to remember that I have limitations, and…

Building a Therapeutic Relationship

Yesterday, I had a breakthrough in not one but two sticky therapeutic relationships. Let me explain further...

I have an extremely large classroom group made up of students with a variety of diagnoses and levels of functioning. This is the classroom where the oldest kids with diagnoses on the autism spectrum have been placed. There has been lots of change in the classroom - new students, new staff members, new environment, and new academic expectations - all in the last 6 weeks.

Now, music therapy at the beginning of this change looked a lot like mass chaos. Imagine 12 large teenaged kids rocking, trying to walk in circles, yelling to gain attention, plus 4-6 staff members, 1 music therapist, assorted rhythm instruments and props in a room designed for approximately 10 people (maximum).

As the therapist, I found it very difficult to communicate with my clients - the familiar clients and the new clients. I couldn't get a chance to know my new folks because I had too many relationships…

Planning for the Day

Well, it is time to get ready for the week.

I am moving into the music therapy room with absolutely no plans for what to do with my clients. I have five groups to work with (one brand new) and two individual clients for the day.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do have some guidelines to work with. I do have treatment goals and objectives that provide me with some boundaries for treatment, but the actual process of what I will do from opening to closing is somewhat undefined at this time.

I prefer to work this way. I was taught to write detailed session plans during my practicum experiences. One of my supervisors would sit behind the one-way mirror and check off what I did during my sessions. If I changed something, she would challenge me about my changes. Since I was working with at-risk preschoolers at the time, I found that my carefully detailed plans did not always lead to the most appropriate session. So, I changed the plan.

One of the most important things that I have found during my …

Musings...

Music is an essential part of life. It is interesting how every culture in the world has developed musical expression to express emotions - love, frustration, anger, courage, pride, sadness, mourning. It also fascinates me that the same music does not necessarily translate meaning to other people. If I write a song to convey a specific message, other people may not understand unless I can explain it. On the other hand, other people may understand what I am trying to communicate. They filter the music through their own life experiences. My love for Finlandia by Sibelius is completely based on my life experiences and the places that I am and have been in my life.

The power of extramusical associations is not to be underestimated. My memories can be triggered by song at any time at any place. You're the Inspiration by Chicago takes me back to high school crushes. Rhinestone Cowboy by Glenn Campbell is from my little kid days in Texas. The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber sh…

Trying, no striving for organization

I try very hard to be an organized person.

I have a reputation for being organized, but I just remember things well. I spend lots of time remembering the things that went wrong in situations and then making sure they do not happen again. For example, after needing electricity in a professional meeting and watching my battery die, I always bring an extension cord to meetings. This appears to be a signal of organization to others. To me, it is just learning from my previous mistakes.

In my home life, I am a pack rat. I buy things that I really do not need, but that I think I will use in the future. Now, the good thing is that I do use that stuff in the future, but I store it in my house in the meantime. That means that there is LOTS of junk in my small living space. 

This next week is clean up and throw out week.

I will be looking at what I already have here and will be trying to figure out what is finished and what is still needing work. We shall see.

The transfer to the music therapy world…

Composing Songs

On Monday, I was running a sensory session with some children and tweens when I started to improvise a "play with me" song. The song was effective in that it elicited the desired response and appeared to be highly attractive to my clients. As I was singing, I kept thinking that I needed to remember this song for my composition files.

Fast forward to the end of the day.

I finally had an opportunity to sit down at the computer to notate the song.

It was gone.

I have composed many songs in the moment - improvised to make the session goals work. Lots of those songs were wonderful, lots were not so wonderful, but they are all gone into the vapor of my mind.

Now, I know that I could interrupt the session to note down the song. I know I could record every session so I would have all of my songs ready to be translated into music. I can't do either of those things. So, I am resigned to composing wonderful songs but losing them when the moment is gone. Sigh.

Well, time to go to work. I …

Shameless Product Promotion

Image
This year at AMTA, I was the winner of a chance drawing. I won five YOUROCK guitars. Now, out of all of the things that I put a ticket towards, these guitars were the last choice that I made and seemed to be the least interesting for me, but I have changed my mind.


 My package arrived at my music therapy clinic yesterday and contained my new instruments. Now, when I first saw these, I thought they were just for playing Guitar Hero, but then I started to examine the box more carefully.


These are actually electric guitars with MIDI capability, synthesizer presets, and gaming capabilities.


I work with adolescents (and some children, but mostly adolescents) who are enamored by the thought of an electric guitar. They are interested in guitars in general, but really interested in electric guitars. I have not had one that is in working condition since I moved to this job, and I have always told my students that I can't afford to get as many as I would need for my group music lessons. This e…

Focusing on Developmental Levels

I have been thinking about developmental levels for a time now.

I work with children and adolescents with developmental and psychiatric disorders for a while now. In my career, I have moved through several philosophical views, but have always returned to the idea of focusing on meaningful interactions based on the clients' developmental levels.

Recently my facility's population has started to swing towards kids severely involved on the autism spectrum. With these kids especially, developmental milestones are essential when attempting to establish a therapeutic relationship. It is important to understand where a child is on the developmental scale in order to design interactions that are meaningful to the client. If I am asking an adolescent boy to play call-response patterns when he is really in the stage of free play and sensory interaction, neither of us will be satisfied with the result of the session.

I have found a couple of good books that I hope will strengthen my therapeu…

Thankful Things

Yesterday was the American holiday of Thanksgiving, and many folks posted about things they were thankful for. I decided to wait until today for the completely practical reason that I was not around my computer all day yesterday.

Today I am thankful for the community of music therapists that I spent some time with a week ago. The American Music Therapy Association national conference in Atlanta last week was a wonderful experience for me. I do not always come away from the conference as refreshed and invigorated as I did with this one, but I always go to the conference looking for inspiration.

I am thankful for my clients. Those children have gone through experiences that many of us would have nightmares about, and yet they still manage to play, sing, learn, and find good things in life. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help them in their journey through life.

I am always thankful for my family.

I am thankful that I am a music therapist - someone who has the responsibility to use …

Winding Down

The American Music Therapy Association's national conference is coming to a close. This conference has been a tremendous experience and has been so refreshing to me in so many ways.

I have actually met many of the people that I have engaged with in a purely online format. This has been interesting. I have talked to these folks many times via meeting software and emails, but have never seen them face-to-face before now. I am always interested in how tall or short they are, what their voices actually sound like, and if we will get along differently when we see each other in person. (We did.)


The themes of this conference seemed to be looking towards the future, developing leadership, and thinking about moving to the Master's-level entry into the profession. For me, one of the best moments was during the keynote speech when Ken Bruscia appeared to be saying that we as therapists HAVE to be inclusive of all others - even those therapists who have different philosophical viewpoints f…

Overwhelmed, Humbled, and Excited

All of these words are appropriate adjectives for how I am currently feeling.

This conference experience has been an extremely rewarding one so far, and the opening ceremony finished a mere 4 hours ago.

Let me explain further.

I arrived in Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon with my meeting schedule in hand. I have the privilege of being the chairperson of the Association Internship Approval Committee (AIAC) for the American Music Therapy Association, so I always get to start my conference before the conference officially starts. *CAVEAT - I am writing this entry at 1:53 am EST, so I apologize if I do not make much sense. I am not used to being up this late on a regular basis, but I really cannot get to sleep yet. I will rue this decision in 5 short hours from now...* Tuesday evening was spent in the company of my friend and long-time conference roommate, just catching up with each other after a year of emails and facebooking.

On Wednesday, I led the AIAC meeting. We met for 10 hours as a commit…

The Power of Music Therapy

In the past 24 hours, ABC news has run several stories on Gabrielle Giffords, congresswoman from Arizona, who was shot earlier this year. Her recovery has been tracked by her husband and by millions of well-wishers, but probably not as diligently as it has been tracked by the music therapy world. From the beginning of her rehabilitation process, music therapy has been a featured part of her recovery effort.

Representative Giffords has been an example of the rehabilitation process at its best. Her tenacity and courage has been trumpeted from coast to coast, and it is truly inspiring to hear her story and watch her progress. Her dedicated therapists (music as well as other professions) have helped her in this process from the beginning through to her present levels of functioning and will continue to challenge her to regain skills.

The amount of attention that the profession of music therapy has received this year around this woman's rehabilitation has been amazing. All of a sudden, t…

Inspiration

Where do you get inspired?

I am a person who finds inspiration in many places...work, church, school, home, in a store, looking at catalogs, watching television, browsing the internet, etc. I have different places for different types of inspiration.

For the next week, I will be in Atlanta, Georgia in the company of about 1400 other music therapists and others interested in music as a therapeutic modality. This is a good place for inspiration, and I hope to be inspired by the people I meet in the course of the week. 

I do not get an opportunity to go to as many presentations as I used to see at conference. I tend to spend my registration money so I can sit in meetings, present things to the Assembly of Delegates, and offer training rather than getting to see what others are doing in my field. The short periods of time that I do get to go see someone is generally spent trying to nap or gather my thoughts for the next meeting that I have to attend. I am proud of the work that I do for the A…

Looking for the "what ifs"

What if music therapy education was completely based on the competencies?

What if music therapy clinical training was a full-time experience for music therapy students from the first day they walked into an academic program?

What if every music therapist in the United States was a member of the American Music Therapy Association?

What if music therapy was an essential part of all mental and physical health treatment and a consistent treatment modality in the education of all kids?

What would music therapy look like then?

I love thinking about "what ifs."

There is a certain amount of "what if" thought when you are going through a session with a client. I find myself consciously (and unconsciously) thinking "what if I sped this rhythm up a bit? What would 'Q' do then?" So, I try it. I then see what happens. I evaluate and make more decisions based on more "what if" statements.

Being open to the possibilities is important in both therapy sessions …

Getting Excited...

I have planned my paraeducator-run music therapy sessions.

I have found all of the trinkets for my hard-working, dedicated committee members that I really enjoy working with throughout the year.

I have finished my presentation outlines.

I am almost finished with laundry, packing, and cleaning my room.

It is time.

Can you tell that I look forward to this every year? I really, really do! I am getting excited about seeing old friends, meeting some interesting professionals, seeing people that I have only ever "met" via social media, following celebrities around, talking to music therapy students, and working hard for the association. This upcoming week is going to be exhausting, but well worth the time, effort, and expense.

I have several goals for this year's conference.
See Ben Folds somewhere.Finish 3 committee tasks and start 2 others.Find something cool to share with my clients after Thanksgiving.Buy something just for me.Go to a presentation that fires me up in some way.Talk…

Refreshment of the Best Kind

A week from today, I am traveling to Atlanta for the American Music Therapy Association National Conference.

I will be joining therapists from around the world in celebrating what we do best - helping others through music. Conference week will include lots of discussions, lots of meetings, lots of difficult decisions for the profession of music therapy. There will be some celebrities - Mickey Hart, Jodi Picoult, and Ben Folds are going to be there during the week. (I probably will get into conversations with these people and not have a CLUE who they are until someone tells me later - I am notoriously famous for finding out later that the people that talk to me are "names.") There will be many more friends, colleagues, mentors, and idols around than celebrities (thank goodness!).

I look forward to conference every year.

I insist on attending for the chance to be around therapists who do many things in their facilities that I never envisioned. I spend lots of time reevaluating my…

Health - Mental, Physical

You may have noticed that I have been blogging about current stressors present in my job at the moment. I have been thankful to have this forum as an outlet for some of my frustrations as writing has always been a cathartic experience for me. Seeing my feelings in word form often allows me to see patterns, twists, and paths to solutions. So, thank you for indulging my recent trend towards complaining.

While the situation has not been resolved yet, I have had to disconnect from the situation to help with my own health.

Friday was the day for the meeting with the teacher who has caused so much conflict in my life. The meeting was canceled, but I spent the night before the meeting in fitful sleep (typical for me when I'm stressed) and then spent the day in a blood pressure flush. I got home and found that my blood pressure was extremely high. 

It is interesting to me that I often feel that I hate my job when I am experiencing some physical health issues. Once the health issues are resol…

Therapy Things

My principal informed me yesterday that we were going to start a new classroom in two weeks. While this adds many complications in organizing an already packed schedule, I am looking forward to this new addition to our school.

The classroom will be called a "low-density" classroom, meaning (according to the principal) that there will be a low staff:student ratio. There will be five students and three staff members in the classroom. The students are students that we already serve in different classrooms.

All of the students require pervasive levels of support for appropriate function in their environments. They are all loud communicators, and they are all not really appropriate matches for their current classrooms. Their presence in group therapy has always complicated my job as a therapist as they do not fit in with the rest of their classroom group. Now that they are in their own group, my job of finding therapeutic interventions to engage them in the therapeutic process is g…

Conflict Resolution

Have you ever been in the middle of a sticky situation that you are unable to get out of?

How do you get yourself out of the situation?

I have spent many hours in conflict resolution training as part of my various jobs as a music therapist. This has gone along with training on workplace violence, blood-borne pathogens, and many other topics. Of all the training that I have had over my 18 years of music therapy, I think that conflict resolution training has been the most valuable of them all.

I work with children and adolescents that are under-served, unserved, or difficult to serve. They often show up at our facility in full combat mode - fighting over everything. Any question you ask is answered with a resounding "NO!" There is a conflict with any suggestion, any experience, anything that is perceived to be something that will lead to a fight.


In my music therapy sessions, clients are allowed to refuse to participate. I do not mind.


I know that music is not always a happy experi…

Getting Ready for the AMTA Conference

It is October.

This month of Halloween is also the month before the annual American Music Therapy Association national conference. I am a habitual presenter and now, as a member of two committees, I always have to get ready for the conference this month as well. 

I always have this realization that time is running out at about this time of year.

This year, music therapists from the United States and other countries around the world will be converging on Atlanta. This is the second time in my career that we will visit the state of Georgia, and I am looking forward to both the conference and the opportunity to visit my family members in the greater Atlanta area.

I highly recommend that music therapists attend the national conference. It is an opportunity to meet many like-minded people - all interested in the use of music to affect change in the lives of others - and it is an opportunity to remember that we are not alone in our ideas, interests, and professional lives. I am always overwhelm…

The Journey of Therapy

Image
This is a picture of the San Francisco Peaks by Flagstaff, Arizona from the Meteor Crater Complex outside of Winslow, Arizona. It is one of my favorite pictures because of the winding road that took me from the interstate all the way to the crater itself. The landscape is the desert (another place I love!) and looks so barren.

I like to think of this picture as a representation of the journey that we therapists take with our clients.

We start from a place where we are comfortable (the buildings in this picture). We know where we are, and we know where we are heading (the mountains). The path between the two is often winding, sometimes treacherous, and sometimes not clearly defined. While the way to the goal is not always clear, when you reach the goal, you can see where you have been.

I closed the therapeutic relationship with a client this week. He was a young man with a tragic history of physical abuse and neglect who came to our facility about 11 months ago. He really started to bloom…

Closing the Therapeutic Relationship

Today, I will have to say "Good-bye" to a client who has blossomed in music therapy. "Q" is leaving today after about a year of time at our facility. "Q" is a young man who has a horrible history of neglect and physical abuse. He arrived with no communication or social skills and is leaving a young man who can indicate what he needs without biting or screaming. He is truly a success story for the people who work at my place of employment.

"Q" has been featured in several of my previous blog posts. He interacted with me through the music way before he interacted with others. He responded to music in ways different than any other stimulus. He is a young man who deserves music in his education because he truly does perform his educational objectives more when music therapy is the primary form of intervention.

Did I ever mention that "Q" has gigantic blue eyes?

Today I have to say "Good-bye" to "Q."

Ending a therapeutic rel…

Boomwhacker Aftermath

So, with the experience of the Boomwhacker party resonating in my head all night, I awoke to several new ideas. Most of these are not Boomwhacker ideas, but what the hey - I thought I'd share...

My clients have developmental and psychiatric diagnoses, so many of the things that I saw last night were not things my clients can access easily. The chants, the songs, and the organization skills were valuable, so I will use them (with LOTS of adaptations) with my students.

Now, on to my ideas.

With the upcoming Halloween event arriving, I suggest using the Boomwhackers in minor keys. A and C, E and B, D and F are all minor tonalities that can be used as the format for "spooky" songs using the Diatonic set. I often use the exact same songs that I use during the rest of the year on Halloween, but I change all of my major tonalities to minor tonalities. The change of mode increases the eeriness of the music and really makes me think about my melodies and pitches as well. It's a …

Boomwhacker Party?? What??

I just finished a webinar with Kat Fulton, electronic media guru! She sent out an invitation for anyone who was interested to attend an online Boomwhacker Party. I thought, "Why not?" and signed up.

Now, I am very interested in offering online CMTE courses for music therapists who share my interests in persons with developmental disabilities, persons with psychiatric diagnoses, and music therapy interns. I am always interested in how others offer information online, so I signed up for both the Boomwhacker ideas and to see Kat in action.

I was not disappointed.

We used an online conference meeting platform called MeetingBurner. I logged in and waited for the others to arrive. The platform did not allow us to see each other, but we could see Kat and see her powerpoint presentation. It was a bit difficult to contact Kat while she was presenting, but we chatted amongst ourselves without an issue.

Now, the boomwhacker ideas were things that I would have to adapt quite a bit for my st…

Seeing the Entire Picture - Part 2

Image
Working as a music therapist often means that you have the privilege of seeing clients in a different way than other professionals.


In my music therapy room, kids are often engaged, looking happy, and participating actively in the therapeutic experiences. They will stop screaming when they know that it is almost time to sing, dance, and play. They will hold their behavior in the "acceptable" range for the duration of the session and, many times, for well after the closing song.


Why is this the case?


We know that music affects the brain differently than other stimuli. There are many researchers who study the effect of music on the brain, and there is lots of research that helps us, as therapists, to explain the mechanisms that occur in the brains of our clients.


Now, I don't know exactly what goes on in the brains of my clients since I don't have a fMRI machine or a PET Scan machine. I can only see their faces, their movements, their responses to music and therapeutic mus…

My Life as a Musical Sherlock Holmes

Today's last session was one where I was at a loss.

My child is 9 years old, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the pervasive level of involvement and with various and sundry psychiatric diagnoses. When I entered his classroom, he was curled up on the floor, screaming. I offered him his schedule card, and he walked with me, screaming all the way. We successfully retrieved his music card and headed towards the classroom door.

Once outside, he tried to pull me the opposite direction. When I told him we were going to the music room, he threw himself on the floor and kept screaming. He hit his head on the floor until I placed my foot between the floor and his scalp...then, he hit my foot a couple more times.

Eventually, he stood up and walked with me to the music room, still crying and screaming.

Once inside the room, he and I walked over to the window in the corner. I offered him the gathering drum (which he likes to sit on), and he sat. The screaming continued.

I pulled out my oc…

Therapeutic Music Intervention Planning

I am getting my head ready for session planning for the upcoming week. I have two different types of sessions - kids with severe involvement and kids with less severe involvement. I see every student in the facility for group treatment - 50 minutes per week - and about 30 of them in individual or small group treatment. In addition, each child receives 60 minutes of multidisciplinary educational enhancement services on Friday (themed discovery learning and problem-solving experiences that involve LOTS of movement).


My session planning is very different from what I was taught as an undergraduate music therapy student. When I was a fledgling, I was required to plan sessions, memorize those plans, and follow my script perfectly. This was a difficult thing for me to do as I have always been more willing to follow where a client leads me than to make a client do what I say. I had supervisors who would check off when I would say what was on my plan, and they would challenge my decisions when …

What A Difference A Week Makes...

Last week stunk. There is no other word for the funk that I was in that was caused by work, or by the aspartame, or by the moon, or...

Anyway, this week is MUCH better!

I stopped drinking the Crystal Light. I made an effort to avoid the people who drive me crazy (A.S.P. - my new campaign...I may post about this at some point), and I tried to think positive thoughts all the time.

Aaah, the power of the positive thought.

I think positive thinking is often highly underrated. There is power to thinking about the good in things. The recession...it is forcing me to budget more carefully. The allergies...the medication makes me feel sleepy so I am sleeping well. Co-workers' conflict...an opportunity to focus on my role in the facility. Broken guitar...an opportunity to challenge myself with my piano skill development.

There.

Go out and think positively. It made a world of difference for me.

Leaving It All Behind

The work week is over. Thank all that is good in this world that the week is over.

This week presented me with many challenges.

First, a teacher didn't bother to communicate with me that his class would be 20 minutes late to music therapy. I waited and left because they weren't where they were supposed to be. He arrived a bit later and announced that they were NOW ready for me. I told him that I cleaned up and left because they hadn't arrived. He started yelling at me that I was denying his students their IEP-based right to music therapy. He didn't like it a bit when I informed him that music therapy is not on any student's IEP at my facility. He stormed off to tell the principal.

Second...the principal.

There aren't many people that I just cannot work with, but unfortunately, she is one of these people. She informed me that I needed to "give the teacher his planning time." I couldn't believe that her concern was not for the students but for the teach…

Seeing the Entire Picture

Image
Things are not often what they seem at first glance.

This thought is just as true in the therapy setting as it is in any other situation or circumstance.

This week has been an example of looking deeper into situations that are one thing at first glance, but are something else entirely at the second glance.

I have the privilege of being a music therapist at a psychiatric residentialtreatment facility for children and adolescents ages 5-22. It is part of a larger program that offers educational and residential services for persons with developmental delays and disabilities from infancy to age 3 and ages 5 to end-of-life. (We do not serve kids from 3-5 due to an educational mandate in our state.)

Kids come to my music therapy room with a variety of letters put very carefully into Axis boxes. Axis I diagnoses are often from the world of psychiatry. Axis II diagnoses are often developmental in nature, and Axis III diagnoses are other health diagnoses. It is not uncommon for a seven year old ch…