Reach Them Where They Are At

I saw an interesting clip on YouTube today that gave a good look at what my occupation is all about. It showed a professional music therapist discussing the fundamentals of her job and who she encountered on a daily basis. She described some rather poignant scenes I can relate to. She discussed being right at the scene of the emergency room when people have been brought in after attempting suicide. She described how they often displayed states described in our textbooks as the, “Tin Man”.

The Tin Man is a mental state that is described as being like a hollow tin container or the person feels like they are made of tin and completely empty inside. I have met many such patients as this music therapist described in the video. It is indeed very sad to come across some who is just empty; completely devoid of all emotion. They are just wore out and tired, tired of life.

She described her first sessions meeting this critical patients, she said that she had to approach them very delicately at first. She would try to reach them wear they were, which is obviously in a very sad state. As a music therapist we are taught to do that. You would not play a happy upbeat song to a suicidal person, they are just so disconnected from that it would only make them feel worse. Instead you meet them where they are.

One interesting twist on that though, is that I have used Pherell’s song, “Happy” in my music therapy sessions with depressed clients and it is extremely effective. But the thing you have to realize that even though the lyrics of Pherell’s song say, “Happy”, the music is melancholy and sad, played in a sad minor key all throughout. It connects well with my clients because the sad tone reverberates with them, yet at the same time it has a positive lyric.