Thoughtful Thursday: Stepping Out of Comfort into Discomfort

Over the past two weeks, I've been involved in a video challenge. The opportunity was offered by a music therapist that I know, and I decided it was time to expand myself into video work. Now, I am a comfortable public speaker - I can speak more confidently to a large audience than to a smaller group of peers, so the actual talking part of this video challenge is not what is challenging. For me, it is the sheer shock of what I actually look and sound like on recordings that keeps me from making recordings of myself. Point a camera in my face, and PRESTO! Immediate self-doubt and extreme discomfort.

I am trying to become more comfortable with who I actually am rather than the picture that I have of myself.

The challenge is good for me because it is making me more comfortable with being recorded. I watch my videos every so often, and I am getting ready to expand my video bag of tricks by starting to learn about editing and post-production thingies (can you tell I am a novice??) - this is not part of the challenge, yet, but I am ready to get started with some additional skill building.

I find that stepping away from my comfort zone is the best way that I grow. I start off from a place of routine, of set expectations, of complacency, and it is not until I go someplace new and unfamiliar that I actually start to change.

Kinda a good analogy for the therapeutic process, isn't it?

Clients don't come to music therapists because they like the way things are in their lives. They come to music therapists to change. They are becoming uncomfortable in how they do things and seek guidance from the familiar into the unfamiliar - sometimes that means going to a music therapist.

I attended an AMTA presentation once about using visuals in music therapy supervision. It was Linda Wright-Bower who presented, and it was my kind of presentation. We took some pictures and turned them into analogies for supervision. The example that we had was a car. Our task was to figure out what parts of music therapy were like the parts of the car. We also identified where we were in the car. It sounds a bit confusing, but it makes complete and total sense to me.

In the car analogy, I thought that the client was firmly in the driver's seat. After all, without the client, the car can't go. The therapist sits in the passenger seat. At first, the therapist is the navigator - telling the client exactly where to go. After a bit, the therapist becomes less directive and more for consultation (kinda like my mom and the map). At the end of the therapeutic relationship, the therapist exits the car, and the driver/client is in charge, going off into the world using the tools still available.

Okay, so what does this mean in the terms of this blog post? I remember the first time I drove a car. My dad was sitting in the front seat, and I underestimated how much you have to turn the wheel to turn the car. We were at a stop sign at the bottom of the road, we wanted to turn right, and I didn't get the turn completed. We almost went into the field, but my dad grabbed the wheel and turned it so we remained on the road. I got scared and didn't want to keep going. My comfort level was not familiar and comfortable. My dad, on the other hand, knew that the best way to get me to grow was to challenge that comfort and make me continue. I did. (I also took out most of the bushes at the Catholic Church parking lot where we practiced turning, but that's a different analogy completely!)

For my clients to get something out of music therapy, there are going to be challenges. There have to be challenges. If we do not challenge the current comfort level, then there is no growth. We have to step out of where we are and venture out into the world for new things - some will be good, others will be bad - but it is through experience that we learn and grow.

When the video challenge is over, I am planning to use videos a bit more on this blog...just so you know. I will continue to work on making myself a bit more practiced and polished, but I will still be me, so anticipate stumbles and burbles and ramblings about music, therapy, and me!


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