Music therapy: recovery in the community
There will be no “back to normal”. There will be a “forwards to a new normal”. Currently, many of us are finding ways of operating in the virtual world or finding alternative ways to do our work as best we can. For others, there have been abrupt, unprepared for endings, particularly in younger children and the school system. Some of us will be free to create virtual support in a music therapy framework but others will be completely restricted by Safeguarding issues and policies determined by their employers. When the return does happen, some children will have changed schools and years and their needs will have changed. Certainly, for my own caseload, there will be many different solutions to look at. It may be appropriate to create a “good” ending or to address cases as if they were new referrals again will differ enormously.
But when that new normal does begin to emerge there will be loss and change of many varieties, as yet unseen.
What can we offer this? Some ideas occur to me in my “work” time.
As I have in the past, and still do, work with children from deprived settings, from exceptionally large families, looked after children and some in special guardianship placements, some of the reasons for their original referrals to music therapy have a strong likelihood of emerging as even more important. With the loss of the structure of school, the working on trust and confidence in child-adult relationships, there will be a vital need to rebuild safe relationships in a gentle and creative way. A school-based music therapy group may well be able to offer space and time to address re-introduction to social rules and a capacity to re-engage with learning. For some, the staff teams may also benefit from such input. There will, inevitably, be financial issues, but there will also be scope to offer kind and creative solutions.
Communities will have lost and gained. There will have been loss of life and bereavement borne in isolation. And a lack of the present and intimate support of friendships and the rhythm of daily community life. Community music therapy does not feature prominently in the overall provision in this country, but there is, and should continue to be space to develop such groups.
And on a more positive note, the unexpected “flip side”. Many of us are spending time at home, in our locality, whether urban or rural, rediscovering an appreciation of simplicity, of the tiny things, spending time with families normally engaged in work, study or busy travelling lives. Whether we re-enter our old reality with a sense of relief or desperation, some will experience a strange sense of loss, of “leaving the womb”, that will be hard to articulate. Re-engagement with community life will present its challenges. Music can play a part here – a community music therapy provision has much to offer.