The Importance Of Giving Processing It’s Own Time

This week, as my own kids have headed back to school, I thought it might be the appropriate time to talk a little about those “aimlessly wandering” times in Therapy. The time when it seems like you, as the therapist, and the client are a standstill.
As I had mentioned before, I do believe those times are quite necessary to the Therapy. Although we cannot see any outward or forward movement, we need to try to remember something usually is happening. It will help us feel better about our work and more directed if we can begin to identify what is really happening.
First, I think anything in life needs room to swing to exist well: right to left, up to down, yes to no, black to white. We as humans are not created to be any one way all the time. In fact, I believe that is how development occurs. Sometimes we even need to take a few steps back in order to get a running start up a hill. On that note, when I assisted in cross country, one life lesson that was repeated over and over and over again was “pace yourself – don’t start out to fast”. Many junior high and high school students consistently had a hard time with this, however true it was. The kids that save their strength for the end had better outcomes. The kids that started out at top speed lost their momentum early.
Sometimes we have clients that as soon as the Music Therapy door closes they show us a completely different person. Then there are those who take time to show us their improvement. It is a huge disappointment when those “New Person” kids go for a session, or several or several months not showing us what we expect to see. To understand this I had to equate it to my own journey. When my kids started school, I dreaded the school year beginning. The school day began late and the kids arrived home at dinner time. My kids were mentally done and crabby. I was the prison guard making sure homework was done – trying very hard to focus a very young immature 5 year old boy.
We changed schools and it was wonderful. The day began and ended earlier which was much more conducive to my children’s learning. I was much more informed and soon began working at the same school. I enjoyed every holiday, was well informed and known, was part of a wonderful group of adults, and was responsible for 20 some other little preschoolers to focus on while mine were away. Since we lived pretty far in the country, errands, groceries, and everything else was done with the kids.
As my oldest transitioned to high school, my job transitioned to new place – still with little ones. Now my kids needed me to cart them from activity to activity after school, and then I began to know the people with which they spent leisure time. As my oldest was making the transition to college, I found I was doing very little Music Therapy at my new school and a lot of other things I did not wish to be doing. I transitioned into private practice. Although I was learning a lot of new things (business basics, computer basics, social media, becoming reconnected, and many other things), it was the first time in 20 years I did not have a group of kids around me all day – it was quiet. One would think quiet time would help focus. It always used to help me, but not now. For the first time ever the very structured and organized Antoinette was having difficulty planning her day, knowing what needed to be done and remembering things. Although I was beginning to pick back up on my dream, and had the time to do what I needed to, the quiet, 9:00 to 1:00 hours were very hard to structure. I felt that unfocused wandering feeling because for 20 years what I was used to and familiar with functioning at was missing. I was growing, my kids were growing, and we were all headed in healthy places, but I was uncomfortable. This quiet working alone was very very foreign now. I had to relearn how to function this way and enjoy the difference. Learning how to utilize social media and my computer felt like learning Chinese at times. This blogging business was baffling – what do I write about, how do I know if I am doing it right? Is anyone going to read this? Is it really going to help my business or am I wasting enormous amounts of time going nowhere. This computer does not give me eye contact! It took awhile to give me feedback.
As my kids started in with half days, my oldest went back to college, I found I was very busy every minute. I was relieved that some of my sessions had not begun so I could catch up on some business work. I actually have learned to let my week and my thoughts become more reflective by writing them into my blog. It took me a year to look forward to the larger chunks of quiet time to be able to use my creativity. I needed to be able to process the changes until they not only became familiar but comfortable.
Sometimes the re-learning is initially much more challenging than the existing compensating behaviors and skills our clients have developed. These skills or behaviors have become easy because they have been repeated over and over. Our clients have adjusted, and readjustment can be initially uncomfortable even if it is more healthy.


Conor Clerkin

My favourite part of this blog is the sentiment of the third paragraph:
“I think anything in life needs room to swing to exist well: right to left, up to down…that is how development occurs”. Very comforting and thought-provoking – I’m going to think about it some more!

Deb S.

I just wanted to say I read your blog and could relate to the difficulties transitioning. I just retired from the school system, this is the first time in 25+ years I am not “going back to school”. I started a private practice and although slow, I am kept busy 2 days a week. The other days I can’t seem to get anything done! I know it will take time to adjust, is just that I am continuously amazed at what I could accomplish when I worked full time.


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