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

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

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

Cat Hospice

“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.

Continue reading Cat Hospice

Mothering our Patients

We are excited to share with you this guest post from Miriam Sherk, a hospice music therapist at Mercy Hospice Trinity Health Care in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here, Miriam reflects on the parallels and intersections of motherhood and music therapy in hospice, and considers how the roles of “mother” and “music therapist” inform one another. Please feel free to any thoughts, questions, or general comments for Miriam or about the post to help further this important discussion.

I walked into Ed’s room last winter, knowing that he would not greet me with recognition. Ed had a diagnosis of vascular dementia and his cognition had been slowly declining in his recent months in hospice. His nurse had shared with me that Ed had been crying throughout the morning “for no particular reason.” As I walked towards Ed’s bed he reached out his arms towards my 8 month pregnant belly, looked up at me and spoke the word “mother.” At this moment I felt a sense of vulnerability. Something so personal and cherished to me was being brought into the therapeutic space without warning. Feeling disarmed I hesitated briefly.

Continue reading Mothering our Patients

Supervision Demystified III

This is our third of four posts this month on the topic of clinical supervision, borne of our collective enthusiasm for supervision processes and their value in each of our own journeys of clinical and professional development.  You may want to go back and read part I and part II before you continue reading below!  This week we will each talk a little bit more specifically about how and why we have found professional supervision to be an indispensable component to competent and satisfying clinical practice. Continue reading Supervision Demystified III

Supervision Demystified II

This is our second of four posts this month on the topic of clinical supervision (read Part I here).  We’ve observed that lots of music therapists aren’t familiar with supervision, what it’s for, and what it’s like to receive it. This series was thus borne of our collective enthusiasm for supervision processes and their value in each of our own journeys of clinical and professional development.

In this particular post, we want to address how supervision for a professional differs from the supervision that all music therapists are required to receive during internship.  Below you will read each of our answers to this question, which we all tried to address from dual perspectives — our personal experience as music therapists who have received supervision as both interns and professionals, and our professional experience as supervisors observing those that we have supervised. Continue reading Supervision Demystified II

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A collaborative exploration of creativity, aesthetics, and meaning-making at the end of life