Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
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.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Some days are the pits, and some days there’s that one moment when it all counts. W and I were walking out of the Music Room, and I asked him if he would shut the door behind him (which I always do). He did (which he always does), and we were walking down the hallway, and I suddenly realized he was looking at me and smiling. It was one of those beautiful smiles with his whole entire face. It was a very gratifying moment.
P.S. As soon as I get a fairly decent version of my song “At the End of the Day” recorded I’ll add it in here.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I think it helped to acknowledge how frustrated I was feeling with the guys, because as soon as I was able to do that I felt a lot better. I managed to settle myself down enough to ask myself some of the power and control questions.
I had to put some thought into why I sometimes seem to need music therapy to look a particular way (or my clients to behave or respond in a specific way) in order for me to decide that I’m doing my job properly. The thing is...when you work with someone for years and years, as I have, there’s not going to be a lot of noticeable change. It’s not that what we do doesn’t matter- it may in fact matter quite a lot. It’s more that, after a while, the changes are a lot more subtle. And, as I’ve said before, to change too much within a system which is set up to discourage change is, well, frustrating.
I suppose this goes back to the thoughts I shared with regard to having an effect. I’ll probably end up repeating myself (what can I say? I’m in my 40s now...I’ve started to repeat myself already), but there are times when it can be hard to know if music therapy is having an effect (more to the point, a positive effect) on my clients. Don’t get me wrong- there are times when it is very obvious that it really matters that I’m there. It is, however, possible to go for quite some time where nothing much seems to be happening in a session, and I start to wonder, “is there something I’m missing here? Am I doing something I shouldn’t be doing? Am I doing too much? Are my clients doing too little? Is it legitimate to call this music therapy when this person refuses to use music most of the time?”
Sigh. If only there were easy answers.
Well, if being in music therapy is a place where my clients can come for a period of time and just be (as in be themselves or be mellow or be mad or be downhearted) and have someone (okay, me) be with them, then I can consider that part of a good day’s work.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
It's odd how the day goes and how the day ends. I felt terrible at work. So many of my clients just frustrated me beyond words today. E (who acts like he wants me to do all the work and who sits there, essentially laughing at me), R (who seems fine all the way to the Music Room, but when he gets there he looks like he’s going to pass out, and then suddenly he’s fine again when we go through the 15 minute process of getting the coats back on and very slowly walking back to the cottage), M (who reenacts the painful loss of his family and home over and over and over again, feeling the need to punch at me in the process, and then he can’t let me go at “goodbye”), R2 (who didn’t get a nap and was sleeping mostly)...
Sometimes I'm afraid I'm losing my heart for my work. Lately I've been feeling so angry with the guys, and I feel so guilt-ridden for being angry. Honestly, in E’s session I was thinking that I could just walk away from the Center and be done with this. I was so tired of always having to do all the work. I'm really starting to get that my clients are not going to change, ever, unless something drastically changes in their lives. They can't change, because if they did it would be hell for them. To be too aware within a system that's so difficult is torture. Maybe it's not fair to ask any more of them. But, yet, I want to. I want them to be bigger than this tiny fishbowl they live in. Is that totally unfair to ask? Probably.
Before I left work this evening I stopped by the Exercise Room, looking for a colleague. I knocked on the door, opened it, and there was B, standing right in front of the door. He immediately approached me and took my hand and clung to me for a little while. L, his staff person, got the treadmill started for him, and he guided him over to it, and B hopped on, got his balance in ten seconds, and then turned around and just as gracefully, hopped off (after walking backwards on this moving machine for a second or two, watching me), seeming still to want to come on over and hang out with me.
I guess that’s why I stay. Because of the B moments. Somehow, for now, they make up for the E, R, M, and R2 moments. And because even though we have these horrible moments (sometimes weeks and months), I think it still makes a difference that I’m there.