On a typical morning I might be using simple phrases such as “First drum, then tambourine” with a 6 year old. Then in the afternoon I am having a full conversation with a 70 year old about their family. I came into this internship in music therapy desiring the diverse experience of working with all populations, and my wishes have been fulfilled. Listed below are some of the large differences between different populations that I have noted so far, each of which I am learning to adjust to:

Amount of words used:
Like my example above, kids with disabilities need to be told things with as few words as possible to get the point across. Differently, in a rehab or hospice setting, I have had full conversations with clients about a variety of subjects.

Pace of sessions:
Kids need sessions to keep moving from intervention to intervention to maintain their attention, while rehab and hospice sessions allow for a more relaxed flow of conversation/songs. Adult DD allows for longer interventions than with kids, however, it still needs to move and transition quickly between interventions.

Goals:
With my adult groups, most have communication/social goals, for example, rehab can be communication, leisure, emotional. Kids have academic goals which can include social and communication, but I have also addressed math, reading and comprehension goals.

Documentation – Narrative vs. data tracking:
My school clients are more data-heavy, with tracking the amount of prompts and opportunities towards each goal. In adult DD sessions, the set up is similar to school but because their goals are different (mostly social). I’m tracking how many times they participated or interacted with peers in a session. In rehab and hospice, my documentation has some data at the top of the forms, but a large section is dedicated to narrative.  

I believe these things are important to notice and adjust to. Being contractual music therapists at West Music, we have a variety of client groups and individuals and are constantly learning. So the next time you go to a session, take the time to think about any adjustments you may need to make in your thought process or the way you lead the session compared to your previous session.

~Janel Cross, Music Therapy Intern