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Creating Space…for our clients, for ourselves

by:  Sarah Van Peteghen, MTA

I recently applied to present at the 40th anniversary of our national conference. The title of my workshop is Music Therapy in the Car (and Other Venues). As music therapists, our presence is requested by a massive range of clients. The venues these clients occupy are everything from long-­‐term care facilities to pre-­‐ schools, from private homes to gymnasiums. We are asked to crate a space where our clients feel honoured, respected, and valued. I have worked with infants hanging over a parent’s shoulder in a basement. I have maneuvered my guitar into client rooms, living rooms and one time, the backseat of a car. Recently I underwent a performance review. A woman I respect so much told me “take more time to create that therapeutic space”.

This was such a great reminder for me. I am someone who has no patience for anything I try to accomplish, but I have all of the time left on earth for my clients to close their hands around an instrument, to find the chord they are searching for on a piano. The day after we spoke, I saw a client who I have known for more than 3 years. I thought about that idea, took a deep breath, and had the best session in months. I allowed silence to be filled by the client; by a breath, by a sigh, by a sound. I watched for the slightest twitch of the hand and felt so much more in tune with everything around me. I wish that everyone could have the experiences that I do with my clients. I truly do. They remind me every day that time and space are precious, and that neither should be wasted.