Showing posts from December, 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; on Twitter #OCMT2012; or at our website:

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…


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 …


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…