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.
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.
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”
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.
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”
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.
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”
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”
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”
“We’re running a cat hospice”
I hadn’t really connected the dots in that way until my wife said it out loud to friends. While I had been aware of it on an intellectual level, it was jarring to hear it framed in that way. Suddenly, we weren’t curing our 18-year-old feline’s failing kidneys or reversing her ailing liver functioning. Rather, we were making her comfortable, bearing witness, and waiting.