I'm taking a graduate music therapy class right now. Technically, I'm a non-matriculating student. (I love that word... it's fun to say!) This semester, the class is ethics. Well, it's actually:
"Legal and Ethical Issues in Music Therapy."
I know. It sounds like it should be a non-narcotic sleep aid, right?
It actually hasn't been too bad. The professor is really good at facilitating interesting discussions. Now that we are talking about supervision (that is, supervising music therapy practicum students and interns) our discussions have taken an interesting turn.
We talked this evening about different approaches to supervising college-age students who have finished their coursework, but are not yet professionals. It's a fascinating period of personal & professional growth, and there are many different approaches to shepherding an intern through this time.
The approach I tend to use the most is the verbal approach. This approach is characterized by discussions, conversations and verbal analysis of sessions, behaviors, breakthroughs, etc. with clients.
The approach that I tend to avoid is the more experiential approach in which music therapy supervisors and supervisees actually use music therapy techniques to process events and sessions that occur with clients. This approach is characterized by a lot of musical improvisation.
Some of the other students in class (many of whom are actually undergrads) reported that they might prefer the experiential approach over the verbal approach. They were, after all, musicians first.
[Cue can-opener sound effects]
This is the part where my can came open and all the worms wriggled out.
I used to love improvisation. I actually used to be very good at it. For a time, I planned to be a jazz musician. As my job. Until my mom pointed out that at some point I would undoubtedly need things like health insurance and money for rent. (After this she pretty well demanded that I declare a major which would lead to a steady paycheck. Consequently, the first question she asked when I came home a week later & told her I wanted to be a music therapist was, "Is that a real job?")
But I digress.
I loved improv. It came as naturally as eating cupcakes.
Then I got robbed at gunpoint while working the counter at a small video store, and although I walked away physically unharmed... that part of me, that musician who rocked at improv & song writing... well, it just withered up and died. I lost all ability to improvise even the shortest solo. I could still play music that somebody else had written, but I just couldn't express myself that way at all anymore.
It was replaced by post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder and depression.
The PTSD is pretty well gone, although I still struggle a bit with the other two.
But I realized, as I was listening to those young musicians talking, that I never bothered to try & fix that broken musician in me. As a wife, mom & music therapist, it's easy (really easy) to turn all of my attention outward, to the people who will take all I offer & then ask for more.
I think this has worked for me because the idea of exploring that part of me is frightening. What if I can't get that back? The possibility of failure here is potentially devastating.
Believe it or not, I've been able to get by without improvising very much at all. I write many of my own songs for therapy, but that music is for teaching, not for expressing.
So this class was supposed to be a completely cerebral experience. I was taking it just to further my education and cognitively challenge myself, and it has opened up a can of worms for me. It's not exactly a huge emotional issue. But I do keep thinking about it.
What do you think? Have you ever felt like you lost a piece of yourself & wondered if you could get it back? Did you try? How did you do it?