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”

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Multidisciplinary

Intersections of Depth Psychology and Music Therapy

This post is our next in the new series of posts focused on music therapy and interdisciplinary work in end-of-life care.  I’m bringing you my contribution as a music therapist who is also trained as a depth psychotherapist.

I decided to pursue doctoral work in depth psychotherapy because of my private practice.  I had my bachelors and masters in music therapy, and I also had done post-grad training with Diane Austin, but I didn’t feel like any of these prepared me for the range and depth of material that emerged when I started working one-on-one with the group that is sometimes known as “the walking wounded,” people like all of us who are living life, negotiating relationships and meeting life’s responsibilities, but suffering deeply underneath.  I have grown and changed immensely as a private practice psychotherapist from my depth coursework and supervision, but I feel that depth psychology has been a helpful contributor to my end-of-life music therapy work as well. Continue reading “Intersections of Depth Psychology and Music Therapy”

General

Mothering Our Clients–Mothering Ourselves

Note: In true “new mom” fashion, I drafted this post in August. It has taken until now for me to complete it!

Sometime last year, Noah and I were chatting about parenthood, our work, birth stories and death stories…you know—the usual light-hearted conversation topics! He wondered how it was for me to be a mom while simultaneously working in pediatric palliative care. I have long since wanted to blog about this topic, but struggled with what exactly I wanted to say. What follows are some thoughts that came to me during a long stroll with my infant daughter. Continue reading “Mothering Our Clients–Mothering Ourselves”

General

Where is the darkness?

We, the music therapy community, have a certain way of talking about our work in end-of-life care, and a certain way that we generally do not talk about our work in end-of-life care.  End-of-life music therapy clinical work is often described as “so beautiful” and “so spiritual,” I think more so than music therapy in its other clinical iterations.  We like to talk about the lightness, the tears of much-needed release, the uplifting, transcendent beauty of music in the moments leading toward someone’s death.

But that’s only a portion of the work, isn’t it?   Continue reading “Where is the darkness?”

General

The End is Near?

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Sustaining Long Term Work with Persons Who Have Degenerative Conditions

I walk into Leah’s room for the second time this week.  She is positioned on her side with an oxygen mask askew over her face.  She is curled up in the fetal position, knees into her chest.  Her eyes are partially open, not really seeing.  She is covered with a weighted blanket, an attempt to slow/stop her almost constant jerking movements.  In summary, Leah appears to be exactly the same as I left her just two days earlier.  For the most part, this is how Leah has looked for the past three years.

I know this wasn’t always Leah’s existence.   Continue reading “The End is Near?”

Foundational concepts

Depth

What does it mean to do “deep” work in end-of-life care?  Does deep just mean that we feel deeply?  Does it mean that we feel like we deeply understand the patient or family member that we are working with?  I’m considering this post to be a sort of primer to depth work in end-of-life care, as I conceive of it, and a place to introduce some concepts that all the editors will probably be writing about at some point or another. Continue reading “Depth”