Possiblities Abound...Now I Need to Know Which Path to Take

My "co-worker" looking surprised that I want her to move!
I think my anxiety about all of this is starting to subside a bit. I've been watching what all of you all are doing out there, and there are puppies and kittens on the television, so I am starting to come up with scenarios for myself in my job as a music therapist.

I'm in an interesting spot. I am a school employee who works within a residential treatment program. About 65% of my clients are residents. The remaining 35% are day students who attend the school only. My paycheck comes from the school district, but the facility contributes to that paycheck. So, my job is more complex than that of the typical school-based music therapist. We have two separate groups of clients that will need interaction and treatment. The focus of most of the administrators at my facility are on our residents. The school has to be a secondary focus at this time because our residents are there all the time. While administrators are focused on how to house, supervise, and keep our residents safe, I am trying to figure out what is going to happen to all of my students - residents and day students alike. I am hired to provide music therapy treatment through group educational enrichment to all of my students - not just the residents. I have not been hired for direct care services for my residents, but that may become part of my job in the near future. I still do not know what is going to happen.

So, I've been thinking and trying things out.

I've been spending some time sitting back and watching the efforts of other great music therapists this week. I've been watching how my sister is transitioning from an in-person teacher to an online teacher this week. I am trying to think about how I could do what I need to do as a therapist for my clients from home. From work. Livestream. Recorded. I am trying to figure out how my music therapy intern will be a part of all of this. I'm still spiraling through the possibilities.

Here's what I know.

I know I can provide both livestream and recorded content to my clients. I would need a platform provided by my school for the livestream and to communicate with my clients, but I am able to produce videos and run sessions virtually. I've been doing both of these things for 10 years now. I have enough content to keep things going for a very long time. I just need to do it.

My questions right now include wondering what I will be asked to do as an employee of my facility and as an employee of my school district. I know that my service delivery model HAS to change because of all of this. Whether I am livestreaming or recording, my interaction with clients will be one-sided. I will be giving things out into the void with no perceptible response from the other side. I will be more of a performer than I have ever been in my career.

Ooh, that's an interesting perspective and one that hasn't occurred to me until just now. For the first time in my music therapy career, I will be performing more than I will be doing therapy.

Let me explain.

I pride myself on being able to shape the musical experience to my client - using elements of music to adapt the music to support the client in moving towards his or her goals and objectives. When I am singing into a camera, I am not as able to change those elements because I do not have a shared experience with my clients. So, is what I can do from my home computer therapy? I don't think it is. I think it skews more towards the side of entertainment. Is that what is going to have to happen for some time? Probably, so it is okay to move towards that side of my role as a therapist. More therapist-music interaction than therapist-client-music interaction. The client takes a more passive role in how the session is formed and implemented than usual (at least, for me!).

Today is the last official day of my official spring break. I am in the midst of a purge of my stuff in my home, and things look bleak at this time even though I've thrown out lots of stuff so far and am far from finished with that task. I have been promised a text message from our administration about what to do on Monday. The school district has been shut down for students, but teachers are being asked to report to their buildings to find out more information. At one point, we weren't going to go in, but things seem to have changed in two days - like everything is changing around us all. I will continue with my purge and will throw things out like never before. It is past time to do so. I have two more days in my house (church has been cancelled), so I can keep working on my home setting.

As I am doing so, I will be thinking more about how to plan sessions for a diverse group of students in all sorts of locations.


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