Monday matters: A pairing

I’ve written about the role of patience in music therapy sessions before, and I’ve come up against it again. I find it exceedingly difficult to manage the juxtaposition of task management and creation of therapeutic space. Therapeutic space is vast and filled by the client and all of the people, things, and ideas he needs to bring with him; task management is all of the noise and pieces that clamor around outside, hopefully serving to keep out extraneous bits from getting where they shouldn’t go. The session inside the space needs to be as quiet as it can be before the client enters.

How in the world does one keep these two parts of the self-employed therapist life living harmoniously?

Meditate, if you can.

Dump the thoughts onto paper before going into a session.


Talk to other therapists.

Accept imperfection, but expect improvement.

What is your definition of therapeutic space?

*In last week’s post, I mentioned my three priorities for the week. Gladly, I accomplished them all.

Monday matters: Anticipation

We had our monthly peer group meeting tonight, and the intention we assigned our improv was “anticipation.” The feelings I have surrounding anticipation are positive (challenge, achievement) and negative (anxiety, possible disappointment, stress). I’m anticipating fluctuation in my practice. I’m anticipating growth in my clinical knowledge. I’m anticipating a lot of transition and movement, which is exciting and distressing.

I’ve been feeling shaken a lot lately. I’ve felt shaken loose, ungrounded, and definitely unstable. I’ve been lonely out here in private practice. I’m anticipating the need to further connect with therapists, and though I’ve secured at least one accountability partner, I might benefit from clearly stating my goals for the week here.

My Monday Map for this week:

  1. Register for the GLR Conference
  2. Catch up on my billing
  3. Learn one new piece of repertoire/write one song

Where does your map go this week?

I anticipate success…

Monday matters: Distillation


[dis-tl-ey-shuhn]  Show IPA


the purification or concentration of a substance, the obtaining of the essence or volatile properties contained in it, or the separation of one substance from another, by such a process.
I’d like to distill. I’d like to separate volatile properties from my clinical practice. One way to do that, I’m supposing, is to get out of my own way, but I’m not sure how to do that just yet. (I am the most unforgiving boss.)
Another way to distill is to say No. I’m finding I need to make more of an effort to do such a thing.
This being said, I’m pretty sure I’m going to say Yes to a songwriting challenge put forth by Megan Resig and Wade Richards of On-the-Go Studio podcast. I write a lot of songs, but I don’t actually get on to record them. Here’s hoping.

The importance of the music

Today, I was reminded of the triangular relationship that the client, the therapist, and the music have while in a music therapy session. I have a client who tends to enter into the therapy space and sit down, apparently waiting for direction from me. This behavior isn’t unreasonable, but I’ve been encouraging this client to explore some of the instruments I leave available while we sing our hello song. Today, she moved to the ocean drum, and for the first time in several weeks I observed this client transitioning very fully into the sound that she made with the drum. I accompanied on the guitar, and soon found the ocean drum to complement the guitar, and vice versa. At times, we introduced vocalizations, but for more than 10 minutes, we simply used the music. I did hear a little voice in my head saying, Time to move on. Why aren’t you moving on? What if she gets bored with the ocean drum? Why don’t you stop playing before that can happen?, etc. However, I trusted (thank you for putting that word in my head, Lindsay) that the music can hold its own in this context. That is why I’m a music therapist, in fact.

Every so often I need to acknowledge more readily the importance of the music. Do you ever have that problem?

Monday matters: Continue on

I’ve just returned from a fantastic few days in Key Largo, Florida. The weather was perfect; 80 degrees and sunny. We Minnesotans wore plenty of sunscreen, so luckily there was no burning involved in this trip. However, coming home to 10-degree cold and frozen driveway barricades was really difficult.

February. February in Minneapolis. This month is so uninteresting. Finding something to look forward to is a challenge, in my opinion– the holidays are over and summer is so far off. My consideration this week is continuing on. I will think of ways to reinvigorate and re-inspire my clinical practice. Being that it’s a Monday, and 24 hours ago I was all encompassed by warmth, I am having trouble finding excitement in much, to be honest. However, every day is new. Perhaps tomorrow will melt the snow.

How do you continue on? Do you set up things to look forward to on a daily basis? Or do you rather have events happening months in advance?

Don’t forget: Submit your words by February 15.



I’ve decided on my theme word for the year. Design. I’ve come across so many blog posts and articles about “lifestyle design,” that I’ve decided to take into consideration the fact that I am my own designer. One big reason I started to work for myself only is because I wanted to control my work life. In essence, I wanted to design my days and my habits and my priorities. I do that. However, I also feel that I react more often than I should. A reason I chose design is because the action behind the word has a lot of intention in it; I’d like to have more intention in my work and daily life.

Prompt: What is a synonym for “design” that you apply to your work? Leave it in the comments.

image source

Monday matters: My word

I’ve liked to use these “Monday matters” posts as a theme for my week, or as a result of what I’d thought of in my week before. In this case, I am going to think of my theme for this upcoming calendar year. I’ve posted in the past about a theme word. I’m deciding between three words right now: “Hone,” “clarify,” and “lessen.” In our peer group meeting, we talked about how hard it is to say No sometimes. I like the word “lessen” for that reason– I can use the word to help me identify where I can reign in some places in my work. I like the words “hone” and “clarify” for similar uses, too.

Given that the last two weeks of December are bound to be busy and not work-heavy, I’m probably going to be done posting for this calendar year on Thursday. Please contact me with any writing you want to publish on your professional theme action word for this next year.

The triad

I have had a rough day. I realize we’re all supposed to cherish the holidays and love this time of year. Well, I guess I’m not working hard enough to feel the joy that I’m supposed to feel. (I am looking forward to Santa’s first visit to The Baby, though.)

Regardless of how I’m feeling, I have to dig out and find the space to work with clients as best I can.

I have a client who says “No.” “No” to almost everything I offer. This client is very clear about her disinterest in engaging with the music. What’s hardest for me is that I don’t blame her. When she says “No” to the music, I am left with this vacant feeling that I can only articulate as You’re right. Why use the music? And once I feel that, I am left with nothing, really, to provide her. Well, at least that’s how I feel in the moment. What I am providing her, on the base level, is our relationship.

My supervisor left me with a visual that will possibly possess me when I think about my work these next few days. She talked some about the triad of roles in the music therapy relationship. The triad consists of music, the therapist, and the client, and my job as the therapist in any given situation is to consider what purpose each role is playing in the session.

But what does that mean?! What does the triad tell me in regard to the existence of resistance in a therapeutic relationship? 

What does it tell you?

Get out of the way

My internship supervisor told me once that I need to get out of my own way. I’ve been done with internship for a while now, but I continue to hear that piece of advice. I still have my struggles with music, yes, and there are years of learning left to be had in regard to counseling skills and therapeutic intervention. However I am happily coming to terms with my abilities and efforts to engage my clients every day.

Earlier this week, I met a new group of clients whose warm, renewing energy was infectious. Only one of the clients used words to speak, but everyone in the group knew how to communicate. One of my pet peeves is that people who don’t know much about music therapy like to say, “Oh, that sounds like so much fun” when they find out what I do. Usually I don’t think of what this kind of therapy is as fun, but during that session I knew how fun felt. (I was especially impressed that one of the clients reliably clapped on 2 and 4.) Those clients came together in the music in a way I imagine they don’t otherwise. Most of the clients acknowledged and related to other group members in singing and in dancing, and even in sharing instruments. This was the very first music therapy session that they’d had. I was so happy to be there with them. I even found myself improvising in a key I hate, using a strumming style I never do in front of other people. I completely got out of my own way. I was thrilled.

I wonder, have you ever held yourself back? What kind of work do you do to keep yourself from becoming your own barrier? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!