Tuesday, February 2, 2010

When sessions go to hell (yes, Virginia, in a hand basket!)

hell in a handbasketImage by jamelah via Flickr
Damn! I was all set to wax lyrical about what a wonderful first session I had had with two new clients, C and J, two Saturdays ago. 

I'd even started the blog already. I had a nice little picture all picked out and everything. There was a little singing bird. It was downright idyllic, if I do say so myself.


That little gloat-fest sure didn't last too long. 

When I showed up this past Saturday, it all went to hell. (Please observe said hand basket above and to the right.)

First, the room we'd used the previous week was completely unavailable. Apparently, it had just been painted and they didn't want anyone in there until the paint was dry.  It was a nice, relatively quiet room with space, with a big water-bed looking thing (that looked like a cross between this, this, and this), where last week C, who seems to experience a lot of sensory discomfort, tucked herself in under her blanket and her giant beanbag and sang along with her series of sweet little "bee bah" sounds. 

Okay. "So the room isn't available," I thought. I can work around that. I think.

Then, while I was checking out other room possibilities, I noticed that the other person in our small music therapy group, J (who became "the other person in our small music therapy group" simply because she kept walking in to the room last week, and I finally said, "why don't you just join us on a regular basis?"), was unavailable, because she was having some behavioral issue that required a lot of people to stand around her and look concerned. And not too happy. 


No problem, I'll just work with C in the vestibule where she's sitting (tucked under her blanket with her giant beanbag) (is anyone else noticing a theme here?). I'm flexible. I can do this. 

Two seconds into singing "hello" to her (after her staff kindly unplugged the radio that had been playing), C got up and left. 

And that was that.

After that we moved into a whole following around (me following C), pulling (C pulling me, because I guess my following her wasn't going the way she'd expected), stripping (C's, not mine, thank God), bathroom going (again, not me for a change), insisting I put the radio back on (you guessed it, C wanted the radio), irritated "BEE-BAH" sounding...thing. 

There were two (maybe two) blissful (okay, maybe it wasn't blissful, but we're talking comparatively here) minutes in which C sat and smiled as I played and sang with her. 

Then we were back off and running.

Heavy sigh.

A few years back (in 2006, I believe) my friend, Judy and I did a presentation at the Mid-Atlantic music therapy conference which we called "The Myth of the Perfect Music Therapist, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Mistakes". 

I think this would definitely qualify as one of those bummer sessions that are more "part of the process" or "grist for the mill" (as the sayings go) than shining examples of moments in therapeutic gloriosity.

I suppose, if there's anything for me to have learned from this, it's that if we music therapists can't own and acknowledge our lousy sessions/days and accept them as part of life, then our clients won't be able to do that either. 

Not that it's any kind of easy.

Well. There's always next week.

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