As we begin another new year, many of us have written down our New Year’s resolutions for 2019. Some of these goals may be work-related, relationship-based, or leisure-based. In therapy, we may ask ourselves a similar question - how much progress should I be making in therapy?
Here are 4 things to consider for therapeutic goals and progress:
1. Communicate with your therapist.
As a music therapist, one of the things I find most helpful going into a session with a new client (or group of clients) is understanding the client’s background. This may include information related to the client’s general background (e.g., age), diagnosis, medical background, physical abilities, cognitive abilities, behavioural information (e.g., social behaviours, attitudes), and musical information (e.g., preferences, background). This information can often be communicated through an intake form. A general understanding of a client is helpful when going through the initial assessment period and when preparing interventions/exercises that would best suit the strengths/needs of the client. If applicable, it can also be helpful to understand what a client (or family member, healthcare professional) is looking for in therapy.
2. Have short-term goals and long-term goals.
It is important to think of progress in terms of short-term goals and long-term goals. What is the big picture or main goal(s)? Now what are the steps needed in order to achieve that goal? It is important to consider the smaller steps and shorter timelines that will contribute to the overall therapeutic goal, so that the root and smaller details are focused on. It is also important to consider the nature of the goals (e.g., progressive, maintaining, prevention) - this will also shape and impact the therapeutic aims and objectives.
3. Keep up to date with the process, ask questions.
Although music is the primary tool used in music therapy, the goals are not music-related. Rather, goals focus on clinical, non-musical goals. As a client or family member, it is important to ask questions about the process, so as to eliminate any misunderstandings. Ask questions about what goals a specific music-based exercise is addressing. Ask questions about responses and progress. Gain an understanding about the rationale behind the exercises and care plan. Communicate with your music therapist any improvements or changes you notice occurring outside of the session.
4. Know that a process has ups and downs and looks different for everyone.
Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that the therapeutic progress has its ups and downs, as with any other process. Depending on a client’s strengths, needs, and goals, the therapeutic progress will look different per person. Celebrate each and every success (big or small) and when challenges arise, work with your music therapist to address it with a plan.