Music therapy is, among other things, about interaction, reacting in the moment, and providing a humanistic response in the midst of medical treatment that can seem very impersonal. So, what happens when we can no longer see clients in person?
It forces us as a profession to rethink the way we do things and get creative. In general, telehealth has not been widely accepted in music therapy. It has been argued that music therapy really needs to happen in person for it to be effective. However, it in a state with a large rural population such as mine, there is the potential to reach clients that may not otherwise have access to services.
Then the pandemic happened. Within a matter of weeks, music therapists all over the country were restricted from seeing patients and going into classrooms. Online therapy became the only way for most of us to reach any patients at all.
It’s not a perfect solution. Group music making is challenging. The best way is for the leader/facilitator to have a live mic and everyone else follow along muted. Nearly all platforms are optimized for speech and not music. I found out the hard way that I needed to change sound settings when the sound of my drums was cancelled out! More on that next week in my post on preschool zoom classes. Some clients may need assistance on their end to access the technology and to provide hand over hand cuing. Some clients may be confused by seeing the therapists face on a screen. And there is just no way to eliminate lag.
So why do online therapy at all? Most of us care deeply about the clients we serve. It has been a matter of weighing the pros and cons. For my preschool families, the music exploration classes I have offered have been a little touch of normal and fun and respite. I definitely prefer in person classes and sometimes feel like that one teacher who could never figure out how to use the VCR.
I’ll talk a little more about online platforms next week as well as the way I teach online. Any questions? Interested in online classes? Contact me!