Tuesday, August 4, 2015


In the field of Music Therapy, there are a whole set of different elements and techniques that need to come together in order for the successful application of a session. In our schooling, we learn about assessment and how to apply that to specific clients and populations; we learn about the different forms of documentation and how to successfully keep track of all of our collected data; we even learn how and when to terminate services to a client. What I personally love about all of this is that as part of our Music Therapy curriculum, we get many opportunities to not only learn about and discuss these elements, but we also get to implement and perform them in real-life application through our practicum experiences. 

Another very important clinical skill that we learn as music therapists is that of successfully collaborating with other non-music therapy professionals. Under the “Professional Collaboration” section in the Music Therapy Scope of Practice, it reads: A competent music therapist will make referrals to other providers (music therapists and non-music therapists) when faced with issues or situations beyond the original clinician’s own practice competence, or where greater competence or specialty care is determined as necessary or helpful to the client’s condition. (To learn more about the Scope of Practice, as newly adopted in 2015, click here). 

In our schooling, it is difficult to get real-time application experience with this element. We spend a great deal of time discussing collaboration and how to be successful in those endeavors, but it is not usually until our 6-month internship that we really get to apply this knowledge. Fortunately, this was an element that all the students who came to Thailand were able to experience. Not only did we get to work with and collaborate with the Thai Music Therapy students-who are absolutely amazing-but towards the end of the trip, we got to work alongside two professionals in the field of Laughter Therapy. 

Yes. Laughter Therapy. Or Laughter Yoga. It’s a real thing! And it works almost exactly like it sounds, with the basis of the therapy stemming from the human action and response of laughter (for a more detailed description of this field of practice, click here). 

During our last full week here in Thailand, our group was asked to come back one last time to the Sirindhorn Rehabilitation Center to work with the Adult Daycare. (A small group of us had been going there for our clinical work for the past 3 weeks). Only this time, instead of providing just Music Therapy services, we were presented with the task of combining Music Therapy and Laughter Yoga. On the morning of the session, we met as a group before the actual session and talked through and created a skeleton of a plan. The two Laughter Therapists were incredibly kind and open to hearing any thoughts and suggestions that we had and they were ready with their own ideas as well. After about 30 minutes of planning and collaborating, it was time to put the plan into action. 

What happened next was amazing. The Laughter Therapists began the session with some exercises that they normally do, which include (surprise!) laughter exercises, as well as facial muscle movement and vocal warm-ups. We ,the Music Therapists, were then able to incorporate some singing and instrument playing, along with call and response and movement. The combination of the laughter exercises and the music applications had such a profound effect on the entire group; there were several patients who were either singing and/or moving along, who normally did not do such things. The session ended with an emotional group song led by our own Dr. Register, after which the client group decided to sing a “goodbye” song to us Americans. 

This was definitely a session that I will never forgot, not only because of how well the laughter and the music were able to fit together to bring about wonderful outcomes, but also because of how well we were all able to collaborate with the Laughter Therapists. In another world, this may not have been such a successful endeavor. These therapists had already built rapport with the clients, and they could have just as easily dismissed us and our ideas. But they did not. They welcomed us and our ideas with open arms, as we did with them. And the collaboration of two such different ideas of therapy came together to create something beautiful. 
Study abroad group, along with the Laughter Therapists, at Sirindhorn Rehabilitation Centre.

No comments:

Post a Comment