I was reminded recently about how important our relationships are with out clients. Music therapists often talk about the power of music and how beneficial it is. And it is, but the therapeutic relationship we have with our clients is of primary importance.
One of my clients is the Namaqua Center, a residential treatment center for severely abused and neglected children. I have been able to use music in powerful ways with these children. It’s an easy “in” for me, helping me build rapport quickly and easily. The music provides a beautiful, natural, safe structure for these children to learn, process, and heal. I’ve even used it to calm stressed, angry, yelling children down in minutes.
But it doesn’t always work. A colleague at the Namaqua Center (“Amy”) recently tried to do the same thing. She tried to calm one of the children (“Tommy”) by singing to him. And it didn’t work. In fact, it stressed him out more.
Why? Because of their relationship.
Amy did not have a relationship with Tommy that involved music. Tommy had never bonded with Amy through music. So when she pulled out a song, it was new and scary to him. It was not a side of Amy he knew. Non-Familiar Situation = More Stress.
So I learned something new. Well, it’s more accurate to say that I was reminded of something I already knew.
Music CAN be an incredibly powerful tool. But it’s also vital to have a solid, working, therapeutic relationship with your clients.
Aren’t we lucky as music therapists?…Music makes it easy.