#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge # 2: Problem-solving tools

The #MusicTherapy Blogger Challenge | Serenade Designs

This week, the challenge is to to write about something that works for me in my everyday life as a music therapist. I’ve already written about several tools I use, like routines, and a basic weekly plan. I’ve also written about the blogs I read (and I added blogs from the challenge that are new to me!). I haven’t shared about the podcasts I listen to, but someone else already used that for their blogging challenge post, so I’ll share mine another time.

My resource that I use every day life as a mom and a music therapist is my creativity. I like mysteries. I read mystery novels, and watch mystery shows, and solve puzzles. Often, I find parenting to be a puzzle and my clients can be challenging sometimes, too. So when I’m stuck with a challenging behavior or issue with my child, or when I don’t seem to be making progress with my clients, I step back and attempt to solve the mystery.

First, I step back from the situation and observe. I try to open my mind and look at the situation with a fresh perspective and without judgment. Recently, I worked with a client that was non-verbal, made sounds with his voice that sounded like whining, and just wasn’t making any progress towards his goals or even participating much in the session with me. I was frustrated and bored and figured he was, too. So the next session, I decided to remove my judgments about what I was doing and what he was doing and was just present in the session, ready to see what happened. I observed what he did and how he responded with an open mind. I stopped thinking of his vocalizations as “whining” and just viewed them as vocalizations, without assuming I knew the meaning behind the vocalizations.

Once I removed judgment about the situation, I was able to observe more clearly. Since I am a music therapist and was called to work with this person in music therapy, I looked for musical expression from him and observed how he responded to music. I started singing with him as he vocalized and noticed him responding with more vocalizing. We were singing together! So when I stopped assuming that he was complaining and just listened to his vocalizing, it completely changed my perspective and we started making great progress in the sessions.

If I had gone with my first thought, which was to ask folks in a Facebook group for new songs to use with a person with a similar background and diagnosis, then I might have expanded my repertoire some. But I would not have developed the relationship with this client that allowed us to work together towards his goals as successfully as we did. Taking the time to problem-solve, be open to new ideas, and trust the process of music therapy was key for me.

This is the tool I use every day as a music therapist, and when I’m not sleep deprived, as a mom, too.