Thursday, July 17, 2008

On temporarily not being a music therapist

Somewhere around about June I realized it was time.  I needed to take a leave from work.  

The thing is this:  I've been at the same job for twenty years.  Yeah. Twenty years.  I don't regret it.  And, frankly, after this many years, I finally have the job I wanted when I first started working there.  Obviously then, for a long time now, I've been immersed in being a music therapist.  I've gone back to school and gotten a master's degree in music therapy, I've had supervision for years and years, I've written (and co-written) two book chapters and an article, and I've truly loved the work.  I still do.  And now I get to work with music therapy students and carry on and on about this work to them as well.  This is cool to me.

As I've thought about it though, I've come to the conclusion that now, after all these many years, what I need to do is begin to dis-identify myself for a period of time from my role as a music therapist.  I have been so connected to my clients for such a long time (I work in an institution with people who have severe labels- all under the giant heading of developmental and intellectual disabilities- and I've been with some of the same folks for almost 20 years) that it's gotten to be difficult for me to perceive of myself as being anything but their music therapist.  

So, now I'm on this leave of absence and trying to experience what it's like to not be a music therapist for a while.  I am so identified with this role that it's still practically the first thing that pops out of my mouth when people meet me.  But now that I've been away from the center for a solid month I feel as if I'm finally ready to do the heavy emotional work of this leave.  I've been doing a lot of journaling, and I'm spending a lot of time playing music.  I'm looking forward to a couple of gigs next week up in New England, and I'll be taking a class on Mindful Therapy at the Cape Cod Institute.  I have another month and a half to go.  We'll see what it brings... 

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