Bullet Journaling and the Music Therapist

It's time for a Bullet Journal update - Music Therapy style!

If you've been following this particular thread on my blog, then you know that I am doing something sorta, kinda like bullet journaling for my session strategy development. It's not pretty, but it is turning out to very functional for me and my strategizing practice.

So, I have this elementary school teacher planner that I got for free with purchase at Lakeshore (an educational supply store - by the way, I get absolutely no financial benefit from the things and stores that I talk about on my blog - if I mention something, it is because I use it and find it helpful). It isn't exactly perfect for music therapy planning, but it is much more functional than the planners that my school provides - those are designed for high school teachers, not for therapists. Since I am not a teacher, but a therapist, I change the planner a bit to make it functional for me. Someday I may make my own planner, but, for the moment, this fits my needs perfectly. 

There are five rows and seven columns per two-page spread. I use the first three columns for the three classroom pods. The last four columns are for future planning, individual notes, meeting minutes, and whatever. There is a heading row and a column for the day of the week.

***Now, if I were a TRUE bullet journaler, I would take time to make some fancy headers and making things look beautiful, but I am not that far into this process. I go more for function than for fancy - always have. The entire point of this blog thread is to illustrate that we all have to find our own ways into planning, strategizing, and organization. Mine is functional rather than fun - and that is wonderful!***

So, every Friday, I sit down for a bit of my preparation time and look over the next couple of weeks. When I sat down yesterday, I discovered that I had absolutely nothing planned for this next week. That is because my Fridays have been irregular lately. So, I sat down to start strategizing for the next two to three weeks.

Next week is not a center week, so I started my process by listing treatment domains. I try to cover all of the domains that I feel are important for my clients, and I use those to strategize. I write down as many ideas as I can to cover all of the domains. Then I refine my list to possibilities for therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) for the week.

So, I look for something that includes motor skill development, another something for social/communication skill, academic/cognitive skill, emotional/behavioral skill development, musical skill, and any other type of therapeutic benefit that is possible. This is why I develop my TME plans with the same foci. I can easily find TMEs that address one (and many times more) domain with my TME database. If I am stuck without a TME that addresses emotional/behavioral skill development, I go through the database and find something pretty quickly. I LOVE keywords!

My strategizing allows me to coordinate materials and TME planning, but it is never the only option that I have during a session. In fact, I often stray from the strategy when I make clinical decisions on how to best support my clients in the moment. The strategy is just that - one way to approach a goal. It is not the only way.

I try to have a couple of ideas per domain so I have some choices without having to devote too much mental energy towards my TMEs during the actual session. When Monday comes around, I'll put my ideas on a post-it and put it on one of my cabinets. I'll track what TMEs I use with each group, and then transfer some of the unused TMEs to the next round of sessions - adding to what I already have on the strategy for more options later during the week.

The pages in the front of the planner have nothing to do with my job - they are for things like sub plans and emergency contacts - so I've covered them with new paper and now I am using them for idea pages. I put any TME ideas that I have on those pages. I also spend time brainstorming and mind mapping on those pages. They are very messy, but very helpful when I am putting together centers, themes, projects, etc. I find that having some blank pages encourages me to create. As you can see, for next week's sessions, I need to write a song about being a good friend versus being a bad friend. I also have an idea for this week's session - songwriting ball game. When I put these ideas down in my book, I have a record of them. It's nice to have the idea written somewhere. I also use my pages and some donated masking tape to put ideas into the book for later reference.
 
This continues to be a work in progress, but I am enjoying the process of finding my way through bullet journaling ideas into music therapy session strategizing. 

What is your journey into music therapy planning and strategizing? Do you have a structure? A journal? A method? Share it with me. Please??? There are many different ways to accomplish the goal of writing session plans and strategies, and I would like to know what works for other therapists.

Happiest of Saturdays for you!

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