Updated: Mar 21, 2019
As mental health awareness makes its way into Western culture, I find it a prime time to develop somewhat of a trickle down system in preventative care. Music therapy is still in its infancy as a credible clinical profession, but it appears to display healthy growth in the US, the UK, and across Europe. We are trained to assess and assist our clients in overcoming issues that have already manifested, and this has proven to be very effective. In fact, there aren't even enough of us yet to address the issues manifesting among the potential clients around us. So why start a new client population? Well, here comes that key word. Awareness. The more humans who manage or influence other humans are aware of how an arts therapy profession can rescue their quality of life, the more leverage our profession receives, and the more likely quality of life will increase for those being managed. Additionally, humans in influential positions who improve their quality of life in this way can help reduce any lingering stigma on the need for mental health care. Thus, the more crises and manifested issues could possibly be averted. I could find some statistics on this, but I'm saving that for my pitch meetings. I know you're just here to skim through a blog. ;)
If you know me personally, you've definitely heard me rattle on about this plan whilst delicately clapping my hands in a crafty manner. That's the first reason I've decided to write this out. The second reason is obvious. I want potential clients to understand the hows and whys before assuming I'm going to make everyone gather in a hippie drum circle and force them to talk about their feelings - which, by the way, is actually a pretty effective intervention, and I am trained to use it, but only when my group is comfortable enough to do so. Music therapy sessions for preventative care in the workplace have countless possibilities. Here in the UK, sessions are very much based on creative music-making. Please understand that one does NOT have to be musically experienced to participate! In fact, the less musically experienced the individual, the more potential there is for one to gain personal insights! Much of it involves simply listening. I like to begin and end my sessions with improvised harp music to help adult clients find their focus. A more involved activity, just for example, may involve an exploration of small auxiliary instruments whilst the music therapists supports them with something pitched, like a keyboard. Another session might just involve the creation of an 'identity playlist' for the clients' personal use. The most important part about it all is that every human identifies with music. The story of music goes back so far into the history of humanity that it's nearly part of our instinct.
How will I be setting up these types sessions? Session frequency depends on the group of clients. Some may want monthly sessions, and others may want to try just one. Goals and objectives probably won't be as concrete as for children with developmental disabilities, but I am hoping they can be available and understandable to the clients. An example could be 'to increase workplace morale' or 'increase quality of the work environment.' But the primary goal for every group would be to have a safe space where everyone can feel free to create and express themselves. A quarterly report would be sent to Human Resources or a similar department. The music therapist would initially conduct group sessions with a few to several people, but also make individual sessions available to those who feel they need them. I find that will be the most crucial element. Finally, perhaps an end of the year party and performance for all my groups in a certain area, IF they are comfortable with it. I'm already picturing everyone wearing t-shirts and meeting other companies after each of them sing, but let's not be too hasty.
While by default, this vision primarily applies to managers in the workplace, I am hoping that one day, it can be available to humans in other influential positions, such as city councils or parliament. When the central nervous system to a body is stable and balanced, everything else responds accordingly. Let us start taking care of bodies made up of humans in the way we do so for our own human bodies.