Session planning can be a challenge. We ALL need help from time to time (including ME). Luckily, six amazing music therapists are sharing a tip to help boost your sessions. Try one, two or all five of these wonderful tips.
#1. Find something new to inspire you each month. – Rachel See, MA, MT-BC
As music therapists, our job requires creativity – session ideas, songs (new or piggybacked), new ways to use instruments, and on-the-spot adaptability to any situation, person, or group.
That is a LOT of energy.
I’ve found that discovering a new resource, be it a website/CD/blog/instrument/visual, to use can be a HUGE help in the creativity process…AND, it can prevent burnout from happening!
This is one of the major reasons why I started Music Therapy Mailings: to provide music therapists with new songs, visuals, and session ideas via REAL MAIL each month. MTM is a done on a monthly, 3-month, or 6-month subscription basis via musictherapymailings.com .
#2. Find an expert in your specialty area to consult with and throw ideas around. – Amanda Burchfiel, MS, MT-BC
A more experienced clinician may be able to shed light and offer insights on clinical challenges.
Another perspective can sometimes help you think outside the box or encourage you to try something new and different that could benefit your client.
Trusted advisors can share ideas and interventions that have worked for them in similar settings in the past.
Staying connected to fresh ideas can help reduce isolation and prevent burn-out.
You can get access to this support along with CMTEs at Full Circle Music Therapy Community. We are waiting to help take your music therapy career to the next level.
#3. Find ways to include wellness tips in your sessions. – Becky Watson, MBA, MT-BC
Here is a “wellness tip” that I utilize during my Community Music Wellness programs for older adults with cognitive impairments. I learned this technique during my HealthRHYTHMS group empowerment drum facilitator training through REMO HealthRHYTHMs, Dr. Barry Bittman, MD and Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC. During my Community Music Wellness programs we open and close every session with this wellness exercise of deep breathing to soft flowing instrumental music. I invite participant to SLOWLY breathe in positive intentions through our nose and breathe out any thought that is negative…taking MORE TIME to exhale than inhale. I demonstrate the inhales by moving by slowly moving my hands towards my nose and moving them out slowly during the exhale (some older adults may not be able to hear or understand what I’m saying). We do this exercise for 3-5 minutes.
For my Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support groups or well elderly groups, we do an intervention called “rhythmic Breathing” a technique I learned from Jim Donovan. During a “Rhythmic Breathing” exercise, we set personal intention, connect the points of inhaling and exhaling to the tapping of our hands on drums. The idea is breathe in and out to a slow count of four within the tempo your hands are moving. Then we transition to tapping our hands on our legs as we inhale and exhale. We continue the rhythmic breathing for 5-10 minutes or longer if you wish. Only do what your body comfortably allows you to do. After we finish rhythmic breathing, we stop or cease hand movements and just breathe at a comfortable pace. Individuals are invited to share how this breathing exercise had made them feel.Detailed step by step directions may be found at Transformation through Rhythm.
Be sure and visit Becky’s site Music for Wellness for even more tips.
#4. Find ways to relieve your stress. – Faith Halverson-Ramos, MA, LPC, MT-BC and Stephanie Bolton, MA, MT-BC
Faith shares this tip:
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by life circumstances, come back to your breath. By simply observing the rhythm of your inhalation and exhalation, you come back to your full self (ie- body, mind, and heart), which can allow you to become grounded and aware of what is happening in the present moment. From this place of grounded non-judgment, you can then see the situation from a greater perspective in which you may discover previously unrecognized options available to you.)
For more of Faith’s tips visit SoundWell Music Therapy.
Stephanie shares this idea:
A simple visualization exercise to help deal with stress: imagine that you’re completely surrounded by an energy field. This field can be colored or simply full of light, whatever feels right to you. You’re in total control of this field. You get to decide what enters your personal space inside the field and what ‘bounces off’ and stays outside the field. Whenever you feel particularly stressed or anxious, close your eyes and breathe deeply and picture that energy field surrounding you and offering you protection against the difficulties coming your way.
#5. Read blogs and listen to podcasts. – Janice Lindstrom, MA, MT-BC
I get inspiration for session plans by reading blogs (by music therapists, moms, other professionals, self-advocates) and listening to podcasts. I also think about the MT process–I go back to my assessment (or redo an assessment), set goals and objectives based on the client needs identified in the assessment, and design a treatment plan to address those objectives. I take data to see what works and reevaluate my plan as needed. I learn new songs by talking to my clients and learning what they like and try to incorporate them into my treatment plan, as long as it works for the desired outcomes. I also push myself to try new things, like a new instrument, reading research and incorporating ideas from that, or just thinking in a different way about how to meet the same goals and objectives.
Looking for podcasts? Be sure and check out Janice’s Music Therapy Show online and on iTunes.