Are you listening… with humility?

We just had the first snow blast of the year.  Here is the aftermath in our yard:

Luckily, our house and cars are still intact!  Come see us if you need firewood 🙂

Last weekend before the snowstorm hit the Front Range, I attended the Colorado Association for Music Therapy (CAMT) Fall Conference.  It was with a full of resourceful information and I had a great time with wonderful colleagues! A CMTE was offered by Deborah Spiegel on Dielectric Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and music therapy. Deborah demonstrated how to integrate music therapy with the four concepts of DBT: Mindfulness, Distress tolerance, Emotional Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

In the afternoon, I attended two presentations.  The first presentation was by a psychotherapist Veronica Rivera on cultural competency.  Veronica explained the importance of putting ourselves in other’s shoes to truly empathize with one another because we all have different cultures. The second presentation, “How to be successful in an interdisciplinary environment” was by our Denver colleague Mary Rose, and she emphasized the importance of being nice by considering what our colleagues’ needs are and interacting with them professionally but harmoniously to provide optimal cares for patients.

Each presentation topic was different but I found a common theme behind all presentations: Humility.

Humility is the concept of being modest.  It is without a concrete description of what it is and how we can have it. But for therapy professionals, it is a very important concept in everyday practice.

Why?  We cannot know what one might be feeling and thinking in the same way as she or he does.  However, we try our best to empathize with people to understand how they may feel.  In therapy, we listen to clients or patients so that we can best assist them in alleviating their conditions, whether they are physical or psychological.

In sessions, music therapists “listen” to clients’ needs through musical interactions.  Our “listening” approach may appear to be different in each case.  For instance, a client had a stroke and needs to rehabilitate his gait. In that situation, a music therapist “listens” to his gait pattern during gait training, including whether they can coordinate his gait patterns by entraining to the provided rhythmic cues. Here, “listening” means to observe and understand the clients’ conditions (i.e. impaired gait patterns). While “listening”, a therapist needs to be objective yet empathetic to understand what the potentials AND struggles of patients in recovery. On the other hand, when the same patient experiences depression at post-stroke and needs to find ways to express himself, a music therapist tries to “listen” to his inner voice by sharing and discussing a song that reflects or connects to his emotions.

In work situations, music therapists oftentimes can function as an outside resource who comes to see patients a few times a week. We need to collaborate with nurses, social workers, therapists, and other staff that provide non-stop patient care at the facility.  In that situation, music therapists need to quickly “listen” to their colleagues’ current situations and act accordingly.  “Listening” is quickly assessing the busy and chaotic work situation and fitting right in to perform one’s own duty. 

In many situations for us therapists, listening is an integrated act of “caring” for others. Humility helps us to listen and sincerely empathize with others.

Thank you to all presenters for a great reminder!

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2 Responses to Are you listening… with humility?

  1. soundscapemusictherapy says:

    I like the word you used: “humility.” To me, this means putting aside pre-conceived ideas as much as possible. This is harder than one might think, because we all have ideas about people based on prior experiences. It takes continuing reflection to notice the times I’m losing that humility and starting to assume things about my clients. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Megumi says:

      Great point and thank you for sharing your reflection on the word “humility”. I agree with your comment as it’s a constant challenge in any relationship whether it’s personal or professional. Have a wonderful weekend!

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