Caregivers, pre-bereavement

A (Possible) Way Forward with Hospice Caregivers during Pre-Bereavement

Mary: I got my mom back for a bit. I got to enjoy the music with her…She was there, she was here and I could see her again happy, joyful, and singing. Which is what she did all the time doing the dishes, doing the laundry, vacuuming, and whatever she was singing and she loved it and there she was my mom was back. Little snippets of seeing her it was awesome and it did a lot for me because I got to have her for a few minutes again, it really did a lot.

June: As I look back, [music therapy] kind of became paramount in the whole thing. Like, I think of that more than most of the other things because it was such a part of her and such a part of me really too. And it was such a pleasant part that even with all the difficulty at the end and everything I could still hear the music, I could still see her face even without looking at the video. This was all imprinted in my mind. And it’s like, kind of like a happy ending…it’s such a pleasant memory.

There is certainly great excitement to be found in the “new” – something unexpected is alluring, even sexy, and can dominate our internal news tickertape – but my favorite research is the kind that offers evidence for the obvious. I’m not referring to confirmation bias, the active hunting for information backing up your pre-dispositions; rather, I’m speaking to that point of contact between evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence, where systematic examination of a phenomenon and clinical experience with a phenomenon interact to provide a comprehensive, holistic illustration.

Continue reading “A (Possible) Way Forward with Hospice Caregivers during Pre-Bereavement”

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Advocacy

Vulnerability and Threat Perception

Widely held assumptions about the innocuousness of the music therapy process in hospice have been challenged on this blog in the past. In this post, guest author Cathleen Flynn, MA, MT-BC offers reflections on navigating very common and very precarious dynamics with hospice patients. (See Cathleen’s bio here.) She digs into the roots of what feels dangerous in music therapy, and overturns notions about the harmlessness of music, therapists, and elderly patients. We hope she inspires you to do some digging, too.

Continue reading “Vulnerability and Threat Perception”

Advocacy, Music & Memory

Listening Programs: Fast Track to Nowhere Fast

It is with great pleasure that we share this guest post from Jessica Josefczyk, a board-certified music therapist practicing with older adults in Dayton, OH (be sure to check out her full bio under Contributors). Here, Jess offers an important perspective about the growing influence of Music & Memory, its potential impact on the practice and reach of music therapy with older adults, and how music therapists may be able to position themselves in relation to the growing trend of music listening services.

Continue reading “Listening Programs: Fast Track to Nowhere Fast”

Best practice, Countertransference

It’s About You

Music therapists who work in end-of-life care have the opportunity to develop deep and meaningful relationships with patients and families.  Sometimes we get the opportunity to work one on one with the same patient for months, visiting them regularly and talking with them about important, intimate topics.  Their life, their death, their fears, their struggles, their joys.  Even when the relationship has only a few sessions to develop, we are stepping into intimate space with this other person.  As therapists, we try to prepare ourselves for all of the various feelings that our patients may have, and for how to support them in that process.

We often don’t prepare ourselves enough for how much our patients have feelings about us, though.  Continue reading “It’s About You”

Grief

Grief as Inspiration Porn

For anybody following the NBA playoffs this spring, it’s been difficult to avoid the dominating story about Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics continuing to play – and play well – while grieving the death of his sister a couple of weeks ago. Two weeks ago, on what would have been her birthday and only days after her funeral, Thomas scored 53 points.

The responses have been predictable, if not by rote. TV commentators simultaneously swooned and raved about his bravery. Fellow NBA players unleashed a torrent of inspirational hashtags to commemorate his resolve. Beat reporters wantonly employed terms such as “heartbreak”, “strength”, and “perseverance” to capture the emotional crests and troughs of grief.

Continue reading “Grief as Inspiration Porn”

Self-Care

In search of my lost voice

I guess it must have happened slowly and over time. I didn’t see it coming, although in hindsight, it should have been clear. At first, perhaps the butt imprint in my desk chair became a little more pronounced. I noticed I wasn’t meeting my daily step goal on my Fitbit. Then a day went by where I made no music. Then two days. Then it became most of the week. In fact, I did little more than what was necessary to keep the day-to-day going at work. It wasn’t until the holidays came that I realized the glaring reality—I was burning out. Continue reading “In search of my lost voice”

Best practice, Countertransference

Do clients really die to meet our needs?

Narratives

During the height of the primaries earlier this year, Meghan and I participated in a (rather heated) community discussion about the role misogyny and sexism played in shaping how the presidential candidates were perceived. In a private follow up with Meghan, I noted that my entrance into a feminist perspective began with my daughter four years ago, that before my daughter was born being white and male afforded me a position of privilege buffering me from the troubling hegemonies that affected others. But after my daughter’s birth, I argued, I vicariously lived my daughter’s interactions with the social cues – e.g., a cascade of pink clothing, affirmations of being “cute”, questions about her favorite princesses, etc. – that dictated how she “should” be, affording me new insights and expanded awareness.

Continue reading “Do clients really die to meet our needs?”

General, Multidisciplinary, Self-Care

The Art of Coping with End-of-Life Care

What do we do when we leave a visit feeling as though we have journeyed a thousand miles since the visit began?  When we arrived, all we knew were facts–name, age, diagnosis, recent medical history, comorbidities, referral reason, primary caregiver’s name and relationship to patient. Now, as we walk out the door, we can not comprehend all that has transpired–interpersonally, intrapersonally, emotionally, physiologically, spiritually. Time has been interrupted, then suspended, then reversed, then expanded, and music lingers in the air as something shared comes to a close and we have to leave the room to go… document. Continue reading “The Art of Coping with End-of-Life Care”

Countertransference, General, Grief

On Sadness

I recently went through an exercise of connecting deeply with sadness and how wonderful it can be.  In May, I closed my psychotherapy practice in New York City, and I had to say goodbye to all of my patients, most of whom I had been working with for over three years.  I was bereft.  I absolutely adored all of these individuals, and I hated the idea of not seeing them every week anymore.  We processed termination for four months, and in that time we talked quite a bit about sadness — their sadness, and mine as well.  I felt the sadness deep in my heart, like a longing.  And, as I shared with my patients when they asked me about my own feeling experience, I treasured that sadness just as deeply.  While I had always found deep meaning in my relationships with my patients, feeling the depth of my sadness at having to leave them brought me to a whole new understanding of how much those relationships meant.  It was like a gift, and one that I could never have allowed myself to open if I hadn’t embraced my own sadness, and felt its preciousness. Continue reading “On Sadness”

Best practice, General

Supervision Demystified IV

This is our last of four posts about clinical supervision.  Thanks for joining in the conversation so far!  If you haven’t read our previous posts on this topic, you might want to go back and catch up!  In today’s post, we’re each going to describe our respective approach in providing supervision, whether as peer or individual supervisor. Continue reading “Supervision Demystified IV”