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”

Origins

Origin Story

Note: This is a guest post by Jennifer Swanson, taking part in our Origins series about how music therapists working in end-of-life care trace their connection to this work. For more information about Jennifer, please refer to the “Contributors” tab. If you are interested in contributing a piece to the Origins series, please read more from our Call for Submissions.

How did I, the woman with initial aspirations to use music therapy to change the world by bringing together people in battling nations, or empowering women in Middle Eastern countries, or using music as joining language between different cultures, end up working with people at the very end of life? Continue reading “Origin Story”

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

Hospice from the Inside

Every interdisciplinary team of which I have been a member has had a particular and consistent reaction to the case description of very sick patients under 60 years old. Sort of a collective “ooph,” like everyone in the room has just been sucker-punched. I’ve seen this over and over again. Even the most experienced nurses and physicians do it. And I’ve been a part of it too, emitting a soft groan along with everyone else (less and less soft the younger the patient might be) at the moment of recognition. So I couldn’t stop myself from imagining what happened at the hospice team meeting, my old team from before I moved away, when my mother’s case was announced. Continue reading “Hospice from the Inside”

General

On Boundaries

Boundaries can be difficult in any therapeutic context – some would argue they are troublesome in any context period – but there is a particular quality to boundaries in this work.  Where do the boundaries fall in music therapy end-of-life care, and what does it mean when we cross them?  I think of two main places where they feel tricky to me in end-of-life work.  One is in answering questions regarding my personal biographical information, and the other is in the context of stepping outside my “role” as the person who talks about feelings and plays music for and with patients. Continue reading “On Boundaries”

General

Music After Death

I recently won an award.  It was a complete surprise and I believe that I was nominated by several administrators and colleagues.  The award recognized me as an “Employee of Distinction” by an association for excellence long term care facilities.  I was obviously honored and completely surprised.  I was also, truthfully, feeling a bit perplexed.   Continue reading “Music After Death”