Monday matters: Looking ahead

Here we are at the beginning of the last month of 2013.

I don’t make resolutions, per se, but at the tip top of last year I decided to pin a verb to the next 12 months. My word was “create,” and that I did. Now that it’s December, I’m going to begin brainstorming for how I’d like my 2014 to go, both professionally and personally. Two words that have been coming to mind are “explore” and “expand.” I have the rest of the month to consider what my theme word for next year will be.

Join me. What theme word will you cast on your 2014? Write about it and send it to me at I’d love to hear your thoughts for the new year!

Meditate on it

Yesterday I wrote about some struggles I’m having coordinating a demanding home and work life. I got some really useful feedback from a fellow music therapist* here in the Minneapolis area. She suggested pre-session meditation, which immediately got me thinking about this fantastic app I have been using over the past several months. The app is buddhify and is coined as the “mobile mindfulness app for modern life.” What I love about it is that the guided meditations are only ten minutes long. I did try to meditate shortly before my last client this evening, and as hard as it was to do, I think I benefitted from the attempt.

Do you meditate? Are there other meditation apps that you like? What other feedback do you have to help dig out? Please leave a comment below.

*Oh, and that fellow music therapist can be heard on her podcast, Urban Therapists.

Monday matters: Accept!

I am back to work. I am done with my maternity leave. I saw one group of kids two times this month, but aside from them, I hadn’t seen any clients until today. I was beginning to get used to having time at home with my baby. Now I have to adjust to working with a baby at home.

My theme this week is to accept, already. I have to accept that this transition is difficult and that I won’t find a routine for weeks to come, probably. Clinically speaking, I think of how my clients feel about transitioning back to working with me. Many of my clients worked with another music therapist while I was with my newborn, and the rest decided to take a break from therapy for that time period. In a session today, I worked with two clients who don’t use speech often. I had to guess and assess how they felt about my being back with them. So many of my clients have decisions made for them. I hope they are able to accept this transition easily.

I leave with a shot of my baby, already moving, moving, moving.

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: Challenge

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.


[chal-inj] noun, verb, chal·lenged, chal·leng·ing, adjective


1. a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.

2. something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc.: Space exploration offers a challenge to humankind.

3. a call to fight, as a battle, a duel, etc.

4. a demand to explain, justify, etc.: a challenge to the treasurer to itemize expenditures.

5. difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it. (source)

Knowing challenge clinically

There are so many ways in which I acknowledge challenge in any working day. Challenge can manifest as resistance from clients. Challenge can come from logistical problems, such as scheduling make-up sessions. It can also show up when I am feeling physically pressed for energy.

I choose to use my theme this week as a verb, in that I am going to challenge myself to find more repertoire. I have never been one to have a huge library of music. I think this is so strange, given that I work as a music therapist. I create a lot of songs and music in my sessions with clients. The reason I say “create” and not “write” is because sometimes those songs will never be sung or played again; they were meant for only that one session and only that one client. Repertoire has always been a struggle for me, and so I’ll take this week to challenge myself in that area.

Knowing challenge professionally

As a small business owner, I have encountered a lot of challenge in organization and execution of tasks. I am still trying to find a suitable routine, which is proving to be difficult because my case load changes. One big challenge I’m putting to myself is to begin insurance reimbursement. I am looking forward to all of the steps that that has already begun to entail. I will be posting on my progress here.

I wonder how you therapists out there work with challenge. 

A creative writing component of music therapy

I am working with two clients who have both, over the past few weeks, been really interested in writing and illustrating. One client created a short songbook, complete with his own illustrations. Half of the songs are original, and one is even in another language (his stuffed animal’s). The other client is now on chapter three of what seems to have the potential for being a multi-chaptered story, as she calls it.

With both of theses clients, I am fully supportive of their exploring other creative modalities. I bring in the music part of our therapy by asking how one of the characters sound, and then encouraging the use of an instrument. I do this in different ways with either client, of course. I am impressed by the dynamic quality of the story that one of the client writes. I also love the creativity that the other brings to his own songs. Clients like these are ever-amazing me.

I wonder if any of you have ever paired music with creative writing. How did you do it? 

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.

A song share

Yes, the musicality of this song is strange. The singer’s voice doesn’t sound like it should be singing these lyrics. But, I appreciate these lyrics as a music therapist. I was listening to The Current this morning and thought the song, or at least the lyrics, could lend themselves well to a group discussion with high schoolers or middle schoolers.

Any thoughts?

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.