Exploring processing reflection methods and how they can be utilized in music therapy sessions at an adolescent acute psychiatric ward : a research project presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Music Therapy at the New Zealand School of Music, Wellington, New Zealand
This study explores how other music therapists and mental health professionals process and reflect on their sessions and what issues are relevant and instrumental in achieving this. The primary focus is on an acute psychiatric ward for adolescents. The intent is to improve my ability to process and reflect on my clients’ responses and actions during and after future Music Therapy sessions. Research began by exploring the various ways of processing content that emerge during sessions by exploring the literature, interviewing an Occupational Therapist and a Clinical Psychiatrist from the unit and by analysing my reflective journal. Using multiple sources of information, methods, techniques and theories I will endeavour to uncover meaning, improve my understanding and thus improve my future practice.
The initial perspective was endeavouring to discover how a therapist can better reflect on or process their sessions. Findings showed that the therapist processing with intent to “fix” or “cure” a client is misdirected. Through self-reflection, observation, ‘mindfulness’ , empathy, awareness of countertransference and several other tools, a therapist is able to become client-centred and potentially assist the client to self-reflect and develop mindfulness. The way in which a therapist processes and reflects is often influenced by an underlying psychodynamic theory that they adhere to.
Experience and training can also influence this processing. With this client group, it is difficult to fully comprehend what a client is feeling or thinking. A therapist best serves the client by initially focusing on the client-therapist relationship. By building a trusting, safe environment, meeting the clients where they are emotionally or physically and by making exercises meaningful, clients needs can begin to be met. This all contributes to the ultimate goal of the therapy at this unit - to help clients “gain skills, gain independence and gain wellness”.