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”

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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?”

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”

Countertransference, General

There’s No Flirting in Hospice

Actually, yes, there is.  Let’s talk, for a bit, about the presence of sexuality between us, the end-of-life music therapists, and the people to whom we provide care — meaning our patients and whoever else is included when we come for our sessions.  Our music therapy literature barely acknowledges that sexuality exists — almost as if music therapists don’t have sex, or sexual thoughts, and neither do our patients.  But we know otherwise. Continue reading “There’s No Flirting in Hospice”

Caregivers, Countertransference

I Never Met Her: Holding the Space for the Caregiver

We are very pleased to publish this guest post from Leah Oswanski, MA, LPC, MT-BC about her outpatient work with caregivers of individuals with cancer. Leah offers us insight into her clinical practice in addition to the personal and professional processes that informed the work. It is a powerful reflection on that intersection of personal and professional experiences that are unavoidable and, when utilized mindfully, deeply enrich the therapeutic experience for both therapist and client. Please feel free to share any thoughts or reflections of your own in the comments section, and thank you as always for being a part of this community.

Continue reading “I Never Met Her: Holding the Space for the Caregiver”