Monday matters: Losing clients

I have been a recipient of clinical supervision for about two years now. Because I do not work with other music therapists, and because I was starting to burn out working the way I was working, I found a clinical supervisor with whom I have been speaking on a weekly basis. In many of my conversations with her, I ask her for advice, support, sometimes validation, a new direction to take, and often how the quality of the music being shared between my client and me is indicative of progress or resistance (which is not to say that resistance is not progress). Over the past year, I spent most of my time with my supervisor talking and sometimes playing through my work with a particular client. Finally, last week, this client really opened up and I felt an enormous shift in the session. I was both electrified (this is how therapy really feels) and terrified (repeat: this is how therapy really feels) by this change. I believed in our process at that point– that all of the work and supervision and consideration regarding this client mattered. We had moved into another level of work.

The next day, the client was pulled from music therapy because apparently this person’s other therapists reported progress, too, and inexplicably for that reason, music therapy was no longer needed.

I could not believe it. I still cannot.

Here are three steps I’m taking to deal with this blow:

  1. Talk with my supervisor.
  2. Write about it, create about it, play about it. Consider my feelings about this abrupt termination. Recognize that this was a therapeutic relationship in which I was a member, and that I can be upset by the fact that my opinion about this sudden termination didn’t change what happened.
  3. Find peace with it somehow. We’ll see how this turns out.

I wonder what steps I’m missing. This is the hardest termination I have experienced yet.

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Looking for a peer support group? If you’re in the Minneapolis or St. Paul area, and you are a board-certified music therapist, feel free to connect with me and I will let you know about our group.

Monday Matters: Seeking partners

Months have passed since I’ve written. Fortunately, though, I’m back at it (I hope). I attended my first American Music Therapy Association National Conference that concluded just yesterday, and I am home and feeling energized and somewhat overwhelmed.

I like to write. I always have. But I don’t want to be the only one who does so on my site. I want writers. (Compensation and perks can be negotiated.)

I’m going to post only once per week. At the beginning of the month, I’ll offer a writing prompt. I’d love to read what music therapy and expressive arts therapy students, interns, and professionals have to say in regard to the prompt. I’ll review the pieces, let you know my thoughts, and put it out to a different audience than you might have yourself. You might have read a guest post by Lindsay Markworth, MMT, MT-BC in the past.

Also, Sound Matters Music Therapy, LLC, is seeking qualified sub-contractors to work in the southerly suburbs of the Minneapolis area. Please contact us for details.

There is a Minneapolis-based peer group of board-certified music therapists meeting again this month. Please let me know if you have any interest.

Monday matters: Regroup

I’m back. We’re back. Everyone is back.

I had to take the past two weeks away from the site because I had to get some administrative work done and then my whole household was sick most of last week. I’m feeling about 95% now, and the rest of the family is up and running again.

I had a fantastic evening with some fellow music therapists here in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area; we had our monthly peer group meeting. I was pleased to meet three new people, and I’m already looking forward to next month’s get-together.

I wrote up a post on Michelle Erfurt’s site that was published a few days ago. I shared my self-care project. Find the post here.

Song share, “Running Lights”

Welcome to Wednesday.

I just recently came across this Minneapolis band. They’re called Skittish, and you can find more about them here.

Their song “Running Lights” awaits you:

Oh, how I love The Current, where I find nearly all of my new music.

Guest submission: Word of intention

Today’s post is provided by Lindsay Markworth, MMT, MT-BC, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have gotten to know Lindsay over these past few months, and am looking forward to learning more about her approach as a Nordoff-Robbins music therapist. She owns Twin Cities Music Therapy Services.


Hello, my name is Lindsay Markworth and I am a music therapist and owner of Twin Cities Music Therapy Services here in Minnesota.  Erin has asked me to share my word of intention for the New Year, and I must admit it was a struggle for me to identify just one word.  Each year with my own New Years resolutions I find myself writing lists of goals, organized by heading and topic:  work, health, finances, adventures, music, etc.  There are so many words that I want to focus on, that this process quickly becomes overwhelming.  Goals are important across all settings of my life; however, my word is not a goal that can be quantified or even ever really checked off a list. Instead, it is a focused shift in my approach to life, business and work. My word is trust, more specifically, trust in the process.


Throughout different aspects of my life and work, situations have often occurred differently than I had originally planned.  I am by nature a Type A personality, a goal-setter, list-maker, and planner.  So, when I’m presented with a sudden change, my instinct is to resist.  I am beginning to realize that in my attempt to be in control, I am actually missing the purpose and beauty that exists within life’s spontaneity.


Just as this is a philosophy I intend to apply to my own life, in my experiences as a developing person and business owner, this is a concept that applies directly to my clinical work as a music therapist.


I was reminded of this recently in a session where a client seemed to be stuck on one specific song, repeating it over and over.  My clinical intention was to challenge this client to become more interactive and flexible within musical interactions.  My plan was to encourage the client to move away from this song, as it seemed to be a repetitive, internal musical experience rather than interactive.  I introduced new music from the same genre, and then I introduced new, completely unrelated songs with hopes of inspiring the client to join me in the music.  However, none of these attempts seemed to promote the development of an interactive music relationship.


As I reflected on my work with this client, I made the intentional decision to trust that this song was an important part of the client’s process.  When considering the possibilities for my role in this musical interaction one word came to mind: extend, adding to what my client was already doing.  In our next session, I joined the client in playing the song, and then extended the music creating additional lyrics within the existing musical structure.  My client looked at me, smiled, and responded by completing musical phrases through singing and playing the piano.  The client later initiated the “extended” version of the song, seemingly communicating acceptance of this musical collaboration.


This experience was a lesson for me in trusting each client’s unique process, and being open to the possibilities that exist when I set my expectations aside, allowing myself to meet my client in the moment.  Clinical goals are an essential aspect of music therapy, and these goals can certainly co-exist with a flexible, creative approach.  The music I prepare for a session may not be relevant to the client in the moment.  It is my responsibility to then, let go of my plan, listen, observe, and create music with my client.  This requires several dimensions of trust: trust in my client, trust in the music, trust in myself and of course, trust in the process.


This year I challenge myself to trust the process, embrace the unexpected and release my tightly gripped plans in favor of being more open to the beauty of the present moment in all aspects of my life and work.


“We’re coming into an art of who we are, as we become who we are.  We must become it to know it, and be it to recognize it.”-Clive Robbins.

Lindsay Markworth, MMT, MT-BC

Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapist

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.