Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sometimes I am a Music Therapist

Things I hate about my job: Catching every weird illness kids get, my loans are bigger than my paycheck and doing groups.

Things I love about my job: I love those kids individually and I love that I get to work with them individually and see amazing things happen sometimes.

I find that on this job I am not exclusively an art therapist. I am a whatever-works therapist. Sometimes play, movement, music or just talk. I know art best, but I follow the lead of whomever I am working with. The most recent dramatic success has been in music and it was the simplest, most natural, easy thing that led to a great opening of one of my guys.

Photo from another career.
One guy got a keyboard as a gift, so for a couple of sessions, I taught him how to read music. Nothing miraculous, just middle C and the surrounding keys so he could play basic songs. He started making up his own rhythms, just playing around, and we would talk about what kind of emotion the sounds portrayed or movie scenes we could imagine played out to his sound effects. Then one day I asked him to sing along and give words to his sounds. Suddenly, a kid that has kept it superficial for months cracked wide open and told me about his life, his hopes, his emotions and he loved doing it. It could be the saddest thing that ever happened to him or something horrible he regretted doing, and he was so proud to put it to music. It made talking easy. It immediately carried over into other aspects of his treatment: he became more engaged, more motivated, more positive, more focused and he started having conversations with his family that required a lot of courage. It was seriously amazing. Sometimes I don't know where individual sessions are going, but just going with the flow has been showing some good results and makes this job worth doing.

And my table is coming along...