I’ve been reading the Music IN therapy vs. Music AS therapy posts from Kyle Fleming and Kimberly Sena Moore. Have you? They are worth it and you should consider reading them. So, I thought I’d add my 2 cents as well.
I had a patient at the hospital who I sort of ‘happened’ upon when I was walking past the door of the large Physical Therapy gym on my way down the hallway. The physical therapist flagged me down because they were working with a patient who became so anxious during yesterday’s session that the session had be ended early. This is obviously something that we (the therapist, patient and myself) want to avoid… we don’t want any patient to be physically or emotionally uncomfortable and it’s not the best thing for people to miss out on their therapy.
So I stayed with the patient throughout their PT session and improvised music in an effort to support their various PT exercises and improvised music to breathe along to in between those various PT exercises. I would label these as music IN therapy experiences… Because we didn’t really get into the core reason for the patients anxiety. The session was in the huge PT gym and there were other PTs and patients throughout the room working so it didn’t seem appropriate to explore the patient’s anxiety right in front of everyone. So we didn’t. But I think I lean humanistically and I also think that not everyone would agree with my IN/AS classification here. Anyway… the patient thanked me for the session, made some positive comments about it, I went on my way and eventually the patient was discharged.
Unfortunately, the patient came back to the hospital a couple of weeks later. But, fortunately, I knew about it so I stopped by their room to see if they were interested in music therapy again. When I arrived the nurse happened to be in the room and our conversation went something like this…
Me: Hi patient, I heard you were back in the hospital.
Patient: I know! (Followed by the reason for hospitalization).
Me: Well, would you be interested in music therapy today?
Nurse: Right! Michelle is a great singer.
Patient: Yes she is! When we were together over at rehab she played music that was so nice and made me feel so relaxed that I could do all of my leg exercises. I was feeling really, really anxious.
(ok, so special props to that patient for the MT advocacy, but let’s keep going…)
I would classify the session we had together as music IN therapy…. but I think the patient had classified it as music AS therapy… and we’re talking about the same session! I think the music itself was therapeutic for the patient.
So what does this mean? I think it means that where music’s location is in relation to therapy (is it IN or AS) is not just determined by the therapist. It is also determined by the patient. And sometimes we might not be thinking the same thing.
Now that this post is written and I’m looking it over… maybe it’s not about where the music is at all… maybe it’s more about the relationship of the music to all the people involved. Hmmm… guess the debate will continue on.