Last weekend I had to drive home in the middle of a sleet/rain/snow “event” at 11:30 at night. So there I was traveling slowly homeward (or so I hoped) when I realized that I had made a wrong turn, and I was now driving along some very curvy roads I’d never been on before- even in the light of day. I wasn’t particularly panicked, because I had a general idea as to which way I had to go in order to eventually get to where I needed to be (so I could, theoretically, get home at some point). It did, however, take a lot more time than I expected to finally get to a road I recognized. Mercifully, I didn’t do any sliding around and ending up in a ditch, and I did finally get home some time after midnight.
Now, the reason I didn’t freak out when this happened is that I regularly go out driving with my friend, Darrin, and I make a point of getting lost and driving in unfamiliar places so I’m forced to find my way back. My reasoning is that this way I won’t get so scared when I get lost. I don’t tend to like having unexpected things occur, so I figure that practicing helps me get used to the experience.
I started to think about this theory of mine, and I realized it applies just as much to being a music therapist. I use a process-oriented approach. That means that I don’t have a specific plan in mind when I do sessions. We’re not doing Activity A then Activity B followed by Activity C. Moreover, I work with people who don’t use speech to communicate. This means I’m lost a lot of the time when I’m doing therapy. I have an idea of where we want to go (increased communication, greater ability to cope with strong feelings, using the music to express anger rather than using actions, etc.), but I don’t always know how we’re going to get there. And that can be scary.
Lucky for me I practice getting lost a lot so I don’t have to worry as much when it happens.