Monday matters: Assessment

Assessment is a practice that continues from session to session and moment to moment. Formally, assessment happens at the beginning stages of treatment. In order to evaluate a client and his or her state on a meaningful level, assessment has to recur; it’s just that sometimes it isn’t termed “assessment.”

One of the facilitators of the clinical improvisation course I took at our Great Lakes Region conference sent along an article on assessment called “Music Therapy Assessment: Psychological Assessment Without Words,” by Tony Wigram. The article, published in Psyke & Logos in 2007, looks at the reasons behind assessment, and how assessment can be defined and categorized. Admittedly, I’ve not read the whole article yet, but I was struck by one list that was shown (page 339). Wigram shows music therapy pioneer Juliette Alvin’s lists for assessing responses to music therapy. Specifically, the list “instrumental responses” was what I enjoyed the most; I’ve been working with instrumental responses with some of my clients a lot lately, and this list helps me clarify even better what I have been doing. Some items on the list include, “the clients’ understanding of cause-effect relationships on the instruments,” “whether obsessions or compulsions are expressed through the instruments,” and “whether instrument playing is purposeful or random” (Psyke & Logos, 2007, 28, 339).

Of course there are several other items on the lists that I consider to be really important, but these are some that I might look at with some more care.

What kind of assessment tools do you use? I’m curious.

Writing prompt: Define vision

I venture to guess that almost everyone in any profession or occupation has some semblance of a vision for himself. Over these past few days, when it’s still well below freezing and even degrees below zero here in Minneapolis, I’ve had some trouble getting ahead of my day. One vague goal I have (I call it “vague” because I don’t really know how to measure it) is to design my day and not let it and all its circumstances drag me unwillingly all the way to bedtime. Sometimes this happens. I suppose having a young baby has something to do with this, but nonetheless, I want to be the designer.

What is my vision? I’d been out of the habit of writing down my schedule and my goals and my lists and my innumerable want-t0/need-to-dos. I’d been typing them into my phone or my Google calendar. While this is functional, I don’t experience the act of planning and seeing as I do when I write it down. This week, I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing. Journaling is still a far-off activity at this point, but even writing out what I want to do with my day is serving me well. I haven’t clarified my vision for my business yet, even though Empower U Academy has challenged its members to do so. I have vision for my clients, but for my career as a whole? I have not written it out.

This being said, my writing prompt for March is to define your vision. I invite you to write one sentence, one paragraph, one page, or more, if you’d like. This doesn’t have to be pertaining specifically to your professional life. This can be even a very short-term vision. There is so much writing out there about finding your vision, so let this be some practice for that act. Contact me with your submission. Have it in to me by March 15.

Find January’s guest submission here.

Monday matters: Accountability

As a small business owner who is still new to all of the intricacies such an identity involves, I have tried a variety of ways to keep up with myself, so to speak. Recently I was listening to an episode of Internet Business Mastery in which there was mention of accountability partners. I’d never thought of this before, so I sought out someone who is also a music therapist in private practice, and who also has a young child. Our thought is to check in with one another on a weekly (or perhaps just monthly) basis.

Accountability is somewhat difficult in private practice. I am all alone here. I’ve even taken to plotting out my day on an hourly basis. Today went fairly well. Tomorrow is a mystery.

What do you do for accountability?

Coming up on Wednesday will be a guest post on the theme of 2014.

Keep reading.

Image source

Monday matters: Termination and transition

I was under the impression that my summer scheduling would be much easier, but I am wrong. The logistics of configuring schedules is really difficult, especially when I’m also integrating maternity leave at the end of the summer.

Because of my pregnancy, I am shifting around a few roles I have as a music therapist, and transitioning a few clients and groups to other therapists. I haven’t had too many instances in which I’ve terminated therapeutic relationships. I told one of my groups today that I would be leaving and that another therapist would be taking over for me, and the reaction was surprising.

Clinical termination and transition

“I don’t like change. I like you,” was one of the comments today that came from a client in a group that I will be transitioning. I held her hand and agreed with her that change is difficult. I assured her I would see her one more time. I felt guilty. I didn’t anticipate the group’s reaction correctly. A few of them seemed genuinely disappointed. I’m not sure why I thought the transition would be simple, but apparently I thought it would be less emotional. This being one of the first groups that I’ve transitioned or terminated, I clearly have a lot to learn, considering there are so many people in the mix.

Professional termination and transition

I have also decided to step away from being a guest blogger on Child Development Club as I have too little energy to adequately contribute any kind of quality writing. 

I’m hoping that I will find space in the upcoming months to fill in more projects, but at this point, my biggest challenge in my professional life looks like it’s going to be dealing with termination and transition.

Monday matters: Consistency

As much as I enjoy and appreciate themes, I’ve never been one to work inside them. This being said, the “Monday matters” posts are an attempt to focus myself on a topic throughout my working week.

Finding consistency clinically

I’ve been working with two different populations over the past year or more. I work with groups of young children, ages infant to five, and I work with children and adults with developmental disabilities. Providing consistency plays a role in my work with both of these populations. With the children, my hope is to instill a structure that begins with an opening song, then moves into vocalizing and/or singing, then movement, instrument play, and closes with a similar closing song from week to week. In working with my other clients, my idea of consistency is personalized per the needs of each client. Some clients need a more rigid routine than others, and providing them some flexibility and autonomy inside that routine is sometimes a challenge I have. Other clients always request a certain song that I consistently provide. However I think the most important way in which I am consistent with these clients is that I try my hardest to be present, be open, and be aware each time I see them. These are important factors in my practice of consistency.

Finding consistency professionally

I could be doing more here. But, I’m trying to be consistent about organizing the peer supervision group here in Minneapolis. We’ve been meeting regularly since I was in my internship. I could definitely be working more toward CEUs and trainings, but at this point, I’m not.

I wonder about the ways you find consistency in your work week, either with clients or in business.


In the next couple of months, I’m planning to add a logo to my site, change the layout and look of my site, and possibly start sending out newsletters. All in time for summer, where things will be slower until the arrival of our first child. Hopefully by July, all will be changed, and set for more change. We’ll see how it goes!

Upcoming meeting

There is a small group of music therapists in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas that meets on a (relatively) regular basis. If you happen to be a board-certified music therapist in our area and are interested in a peer supervision group, please feel free to contact me directly about joining us.

Our next meeting is Wednesday, April 24, at 7:00 PM. Our agenda is still yet to be entirely determined, but we each will provide five or more songs of one genre that we happen to use often; we will more than likely play whatever instruments we all decide to bring; and we will spend time catching up with what’s new in the last few weeks. 

Welcome, Spring! An update from Sound Matters Music Therapy, LLC

Ah, yes. I have been away for quite some time. Frankly, this Winter offered me too much to combat, and some things– like writing as much as I really want to do– fell by the wayside.

However, I plan to be back here on a regular basis. I truly believe that the darkness and the cold of Winter tore apart my ability to create a cohesive work day. Now that the sun is out (even though it was at freezing temperatures today), I am feeling rejuvenated.

To serve as a brief update, I will say that I found out that I am going to be having a baby at the end of August; our MinnTwin Music Therapist Group has met once to discuss the happenings of the Minneapolis area music therapy scene; I have moved residences (and therefore offices); I am continuing to write as a guest blogger at Child Development Club; I was in a car accident that took me out of work for one week (which could’ve been much, much worse); and I am finding more stability in my definition of my practice as a music therapist.

Find my last blog posts at Child Development ClubChild Development Club. 

Any Family Can Be a Band of Musicians

Shake and Pass Your Egg Shakers

And it’s winter

Out the front door

Yesterday, we here in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas experienced snowfall for about 24 hours, amounting in 15 inches or so in my neighborhood. This is a shot out the front door.

Luckily, even though I schedule myself rather tightly, I still lumbered my way through the streets and made it to nearly all of my sites. My big concern this winter is what to do when a storm like this hits in the middle of a weekday. I’ll have to pick and choose, and then probably re-schedule sites and clients for the weekends.

Snow. Lots of it.