Sunday, June 12, 2011

Holding on to our clients' stuff

I seem to be slowly amassing a little pile of stuff from RD (the young man who makes sure I take a little bit of his space along with me when I leave his cottage). 

FIrst it was the purple battery cover for something along with the red disc-ish thing. 

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I had to ask one of the other music therapists (who also works in that cottage) to take back the two air hockey strikers that he'd put in my instrument box . I figured they'd need them if anyone wanted to play air hockey. (Uh-oh, I think I just realized what that red disc-ish thing is- it's probably the puck! Oops! Guess I'd better get that back to the cottage as well. The strikers aren't going to be of much use if there's nothing to strike. Ulk.)

Then last Saturday he put in two dominoes, and today it was a big yellow wooden bead.

Today he used the cabasa and the kalimba, and he put them back in the instrument box (not under the couch or on top of a very high cupboard) (thank God). 

I'm excited to say his sessions are lasting the full forty-five minutes these days (as opposed to ending abruptly after a few minutes, which was the case for quite a while). I think acknowledging his need to know what to expect and saying out loud that I don't tend to tell people what to do in music therapy (unless some specific limit needs to be set) really helped him. Ironically, I think it let him know, well, what to expect. Now he doesn't seem to feel as anxious when he comes to his sessions. 

I mentioned, again, to RD I thought it was interesting to keep finding little objects from his space tucked away in mine. And I asked if maybe it was because a part of him was concerned as to whether or not I'd remember him when we ended the session. 

True, there wasn't any earth-shatteringly clear response or anything, but I figure if I keep commenting about it and pondering the situation with him, letting him know I'm curious and want to understand him better...he'll find a way to tell me what he needs me to know. 


Laura Cousins said...

Ah, now. Yes! I had a client who did this exact same thing. I never really got to the bottom of why he did this, but his behaviour reminded me very strongly of something that used to happen when I worked with children.

And, before I started doing this work full-time, I was at home with my children and was a registered childminder at the same time. I was paid to care for and help educate pre-school children in my home, basically - and I was pretty good at it.

Children in my care habitually left things - quite deliberately - at my house. I was able to quiz one of them, a three-year-old called A, about this. "It's so I know I have to come back here again!" he said.

Again - is it possible that your client is doing this in order to make sure you come back to him? Could that be what he is trying to express?

I have another client who always tries to keep at least one instrument or piece of equipment of mine, and he is quite plain about telling me "So I know you'll have to come here and get it." He has recently had the double upheaval of moving house and having his benefits cut, meaning that I only see him once every two weeks instead of every week. He is still adjusting to his, I think.

Roia said...

How cool that you've had people who were able to articulate this so nicely, Laura! Yes, I'm sure that's exactly it. Essentially, a sweet way of saying, "don't forget me when you go- I want you back here." I think that was what I was trying to express, but you said it much more nicely (or should I say, your client/child in your care did). Thank you for that!

It's a very nice reminder, I think, that people are always communicating something or another- whether we choose to notice it (and listen) or not.

Karla said...

Another thing it could also be is a "maternal/nurturing instinct". I would imagine that everyone feels the need to take care of someone else, so maybe it's a subconscious way of packing you a lunch-bag, so to speak. I volunteer at a special ed school with a music therapist. The kids LOVE it when I bring in my dad's accordion and they have to share it with someone else. Obviously, sometimes it can pose problems if the student doesn't like the person he/she is paired with, but overall I find that the students really love figuring out how to partner with another person on a cool instrument. It opens up their awareness of others a great deal.

Roia said...

Karla, do you mean my client has a wish (on some level) to take care of *me*? Hm. That is certainly possible. Sometimes people want to be the helper (as opposed to spending their lives as "the helped").

Most of my clients don't seem to like partnering up with people. Frankly, it takes a fairly long time for them just to develop a relationship with me. But it sounds as if it really works at the facility where you're volunteering, so I say 1) Yay, and 2) Go for it!