About a Girl: Music Therapy Benefits Client and Therapist!
17 Dec 15
By Emily Teng, MMT, MTA, BMus
Over the past 10 years, I have been working with children and adolescents living with various conditions and special needs. Even though my title indicates that I am a therapist, I often wonder who gets the maximum benefit from my therapy sessions. Is it me or is it my client?
I would like to share one particular journey I had working with a little girl named Molly (name has been changed for confidentiality). I had the privilege to witness her development and to experience a magical journey with her through our music therapy sessions.
When I first met Molly, she was two and a half years old and I worked with her for approximately 3 years. Till this day, I still remember her blond hair and her cute facial expressions. When Molly was born she was diagnosed with multiple chromosome abnormality with severe developmental delay. Her physical, cognitive and mental development were severely affected in many ways. Even though she needed help with many things in life, it did not stop her from being who she was.
Molly was a very positive little girl, had great determination and a wicked sense of humor. She loved music and playing musical instruments was one of her favorite things to do during our sessions. She was very fond a hand drum that I bought whilst travelling through western China many years ago. When I first introduced the hand drum to Molly, she seems to be intrigued by the loud sound it could produce. She would often hit the drum continuously and occasionally be startled by her own playing. From that moment on, I knew that playing drums with her was my way into her world.
I started using drums to work with Molly’s eye/hand co-ordination and later advanced to cross-lateral movements where she was able to reach for things “crossing the midline”. Her motivation for development did not stop and she showed us through reaching, crawling and turning. One day, Molly surprised me and her parents when she decided to pull herself up from sitting to a standing position in order to reach for her favourite drum. From that point on, her development soared through standing on her own and eventually walking with an aide.
Molly showed us that she was able to do the ‘impossible’. When she was born, many professionals told Molly’s parents that she would not be able to walk and she would only be able to interact with others at a very minimal level. Molly proved the professionals wrong by doing many of these ‘impossible’ things.
As a professional, I often feel the need to demonstrate my extensive knowledge because I am considered as an expert. Instead, I often found my clients setting goals for me instead of the other way around. They are the ones who showed me what they can or cannot do and it is not up to me to pre-determine their potential or limitations. Molly demonstrated her achievement through her determination and her sense of humor. Whilst working with Molly, she has taught me to aim higher in life through determination but most importantly to tackle things with a bit of humor.