Your First Music Psychotherapy Session: What To Expect

Congrats! You're getting ready to take the first step towards healing. Whether you've been thinking about taking this step for a while or made the decision quickly, kudos to you. I've seen how powerful that first moment sitting on the couch to get started can be.

Our first session together is a time for us to get to acquainted with your goals, frustrations, hopes, worries and dreams. We'll talk about who you are and where you came from. When it feels right, I might ask to hear some music from important moments in your past or a song that captures how you feel right now (no judgement of course!). Maybe if you're feeling brave, we'll play some music together (no pressure!). Slowly, we'll put together a map of how life has led to this moment of sitting down on the couch. I'll pay close attention to how you're feeling throughout the session to make sure you're not feeling overwhelmed. This first session is all about relief.

Throughout this process, I'll tell you a bit about how I work and answer any questions you have about music psychotherapy. We'll chart out a plan for what we want to work on together and a course for how we'll meet your goals. I'm not a big believer in the idea in keeping secrets about the therapy process, so I'll be as transparent as possible about what you can expect. I'm here to facilitate your therapy process, but I'm also going to show you techniques you can do on your own to stabilize and focus.

Sessions usually end with a brief guided meditation to close up anything that might have been opened up so that you can get back to life and carry some calm and relief with you. Music psychotherapy isn't about just feeling good when your in the office, but being able to take those feelings with you.

That's what you can expect from your first session. Over time, we'll get into the hard stuff, but this first session is about getting acquainted and building feelings of calm, relief and safety that can sustain you in the days after the session.

If you haven't already, get in touch about your first session.

Music Therapy vs Talk Therapy

Everyone who has ever been in therapy knows that moment all too well... the moment when words aren't enough. 

There's something inside of you that you need to get out, but there just aren't words to capture its essence.  Don't worry.  It's natural and not at all your fault.  Overwhelming feelings or past/present trauma aren't things that lend themselves to speech.  In fact, according to best science we know about how trauma and overwhelm work, they literally live apart from the parts of our brain responsible for speech (http://www.traumatheory.com/trauma-escapes-language/). Music therapists have known this for quite some time, but it's always good when your gut is backed up by scientific consensus.

These are the moments where music therapy excels. Music helps us explore the unsaid in a safe and illuminating way. Anyone who has experienced music therapy can relate to this moment of insight or awakening during musical exploration, whether that's improvisation, moving to music or art-making while listening. For some people, it's the moment of seeing a familiar pattern play out in their music that can then be worked through both words and music. For others, it's the cathartic experience of "playing it out." There are countless ways we can deepen our understanding of who we are and what's holding us back through music making.

Music can also provide a bit of respite from the "tyranny" of words. Sometimes we know exactly what we want to say, but either aren't ready or are simply tired of verbalizing things. In these moments, music can be intensely freeing, while moving us closer to accomplishing the goals of therapy. Sometimes therapy can get stuck in endless loops of talking through every aspect of an issue or feeling while music therapy offers many ways to get unstuck. Similarly, therapy can get stuck when you don't want to say something aloud, but music therapy keeps working. Music therapy can also insulate you from some of the potential for getting overwhelmed by moving out of the concrete/verbal and into the symbolic/sound realm.

A large part of music therapy's power lies in its deep physicality. Music making, listening and movement engage your whole self, rather than just your intellect. At the most basic level, you can feel the music vibrate your body, which creates a powerful emotional feedback loop which can help deepen awareness, engagement and insight. Actively making music or moving to music is an even more engaged process that engages even more of your senses and creates even more powerful feedback loops and opportunities for cathartic release.

In short, music therapy provides the benefits of talk therapy since it incorporates talk therapy, while also providing powerful ways of moving you towards your goals without words. Let's find out what music therapy can do for you.