How Music Therapy Brought a Couple Together Again

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I once got to meet a man in hospice whose wife was also his caregiver. He was suffering from dementia, which at times made him agitated and difficult to deal with. Although she knew it would be a challenge, his wife, a nurse, was determined to keep him at home as long as possible. To help ease his mood swings, the hospice called me, a music therapist, to hold sessions in the couple’s home.

When I first met the man, he had just been sedated and was dozed off in his recliner. To give me an idea of his musical background and preferences, his wife showed me his CD collection and their Bose stereo system, which her husband loved. I began singing some verses, but the man would not wake up. Instead, I left some CDs with his wife for her to play whenever he became aggressive. We agreed that I should schedule my visits earlier in the day when he would most likely still be awake.

“Therapy doesn’t have to be talk-based; there are some modalities, like music therapy and art therapy, that can help you get those in tune with those emotions without having to cough them up verbally.” –Hannah Goodman, LMHC

I had better luck during my second visit, as he was awake on his bed, which they had placed in the living room. I began by singing a few songs from different genres, observing his reactions. I sang verses of band music (no reaction), gospel hymns (still nothing), and country (try again). I finally got his attention when I sang “Home on the Range” — he even began singing along. His wife, who had never heard him sing, was surprised. I proceeded to try more folk music: “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “The Crawdad Song.” He knew each song by heart, and we were delighted to make a breakthrough.

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The following sessions fell into a pattern: she and I would sit on opposite sides of his bed, then he and I would sing a few dozen songs which he knew and remembered. She and I would ask him questions to help him recall some memories. We discovered that “School Days” brought back stories of walking to the country school in the snow while “Home on the Range” would bring up all kinds of tales about living and working in Kansas. I took note of the times when he became distracted or started getting agitated, and changed the music to get him back on track. I also found ways to encourage interaction between the couple. She once held his hand while they looked into each other’s eyes as we sang “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” To spark loving memories between them, I learned the songs that they played at their wedding. Though he didn’t remember them well enough to sing along, my renditions gave them more time to reconnect as two sweethearts.

“Through the counseling process, couples find ways to improve their level of relationship satisfaction, sometimes they can also identify obstacles or characteristics that are too much to bear for either person or for the relationship to overcome.” –Dana Baduna, PhD, LMFT

His wife was delighted to know that he really could sing and seemed to enjoy it. The music also helped him to enjoy being with his wife again. In fact, even though he often didn’t recognize his wife during their daily activities, he seemed to remember who she was whenever we would have our music sessions. He even started recognizing me whenever I walked in the door, even if he couldn’t remember my name.

However, things took a turn for the worse as his disease progressed. Our sessions became shorter as he struggled to stay awake. His wife found it more and more difficult to attend to him and brought in extra help from a private duty company. Her kids spent more nights in the living room so that she could get some sleep in her own bed. Everyone’s patience got stretched to the limit. Still, every week during our music therapy session, the two of them would be a couple again. He would remember her, and she held his hand, and at least for a while, everyone could smile.

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Long-term caregiving can be such a struggle, filled with grief, frustration, and physical exhaustion. The relationships between a husband and wife, a mother and daughter, or between a father and son change because of this disease. But through the power of music, the beauty and goodness of relationships can shine through again. The caregiver and ward can spend time together, with less pressure and stress. There can be moments of laughter, sighs of relief, or even heartfelt affirmations of love.

Doesn’t that make it worthwhile? “Many times I have heard couples say, “We know what’s wrong, but we just don’t know how to fix it.”. This is a perfect time to get a third party involved. If a couple is stuck, a skilled clinician may be able to get them moving in the right direction.” Donna M. White, LMHC, CACP said.

How has music impacted your relationship as a caregiver with your loved one? How have you seen music therapy affect others’ relationships? Please leave your comment below.

 

Strengthening Your Relationship By Starting In The Kitchen

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 Spend some quality time cooking together, and your stove won’t be the only thing that’ll get hot.

It’s a well-known fact that home-cooked meals are generally better for your health than consuming calories from canned foods. It may be a surprise that spending time in the kitchen with your significant other can be particularly beneficial for your relationship. If you are not really convinced, it is best that you read further so that you will get the full idea.

It Encourages More Bonding Time

“For someone who battles negative thoughts, worries, and is constantly bombarded with doubt, fear, shame, cooking can be a healthy outlet to bring peace and serenity into their headspace.” Justyna Wawrzonek, LCSW, LADC, said. Cooking together or helping the other in the kitchen is a great way to connect and bond with your partner. Aside from the fact that you are doing something together, you are creating something with the person you love. Together you get to appreciate the task and the product of both your labor.

Spending time together will enable you and your significant other to catch up with each other, converse over small things and just be together. Imagine how deep your bond will be if you do this every day. This kind of bonding is a lot more productive than just curling up in front of the television or dining it. Cooking in the kitchen is a lot less costly and more comfortable.

It Heightens Health And Happiness

According to studies, it was revealed that consuming more vegetables and fruits positively correlated to happiness and satisfying life.  Similarly, cooking and eating wholesome and healthy meals increases self-esteem and improves your mood, which can only be helpful to your relationship. “Cooking helps mental health in that it can be a creative outlet. It’s a way to channel energy, can be used as a distraction, help build mastery in a skill, and a way to express emotions through a different medium,” says Counselor Nicole Lambert.

Other than that, you and your husband can go through the menu together and innovate ways in making your dish healthier for the both of you. This makes you both happy and feels healthy with whatever you come up with because of your food choices.

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It Improves Communication

Cooking together improves communication. Actually doing any task that requires coordination and organization will keep both parties talking. You will then learn how to further communicate with your partner and even understand him without many words.

Not only do you keep talking to each other but you learn to sync in with your partners and coordinate even without much words. Eventually, you two will learn to “read” each other, and that elevates further your communication level.

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It Gets You In The Mood

Cooking can be really fun. Anything can happen, and it goes to say that it can even turn you on. So frequently cooking with your significant other will further deepen your intimacy which will be very beneficial to the relationship.

You just need to be very creative and let your imagination roam around. Just let things pace naturally, and you will just find yourself surprised with what kitchen activities can do to your relationship. “Participating together as a couple gives the partners the opportunity to pay closer attention to one another and listen more intimately to their needs, wants, and dissatisfactions, thus establishing a closer bond and a more intimate connection.” Dana Baduna, PhD, LMFT said.

Also, while the aphrodisiac quality of certain foods has been debated for years, give some of them a whirl. You can try cooking anything from oysters to spicy food, both of which are known to get you in the mood. Whatever dish you decide to whip up, the fact that you prepared it together can lead to a spiced up relationship, even if you choose to skip the chili peppers.

How Psychotherapy Sessions Benefit From Music

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Music has long been known to affect one’s moods and emotions. Because of this, it has become more common for psychologists to integrate music with psychotherapy in addressing behavioral, emotional, and cognitive issues among their patients. Known as music therapy, these specially-designed programs are proving helpful to people with a wide variety of issues, from developmental delays to anxiety and mood disorders.

According to Robin D. Stone, LMHC, “Today, more people are making psychotherapy a part of their self-care practice. In the same way they have personal trainers, they are investing in therapists — and that’s a good thing.” That is the reason Music therapy is beneficial in numerous situations and is a great complement to traditional psychotherapy. That being said, there are some things you should remember if you’re undergoing music therapy.

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What Does A Good Music Therapist Need?

Similar to traditional psychotherapy, music therapy is best practiced by experts in the field of psychology, or at least by a licensed counselor. Usually, music therapists are expected to have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or a similar field. In addition, they should also be certified by a major music therapy organization.

Generally, patients diagnosed with developmental, behavioral or other disorders start music therapy as recommended by their psychologist or counselor. However, anyone who feels that he can benefit from music therapy can scout for a practitioner within the vicinity or online to suit their individual needs. Whatever the case may be, it is always recommended to search and verify the qualifications of the therapist before getting the treatment or engaging in any kind of program that is available.

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What To Expect From Music Therapy

“Therapy doesn’t have to be talk-based; there are some modalities, like music therapy and art therapy, that can help you get those in tune with those emotions without having to cough them up verbally.” Hannah Goodman, LMHC said. Since music therapy is a relatively new practice, prospective patients may have some questions regarding the method and how the sessions are done. Just as there are a wide variety of issues that can be addressed by music therapy, there are also many ways to administer the treatment. Depending on the patient’s specific condition, a practitioner would usually tailor the program to the patient’s needs and to the extent of his condition. That being said, there are several exercises that the practitioner uses in order to get the desired results, and these may all be modified as the treatment progresses to a higher level.

In other sessions, patients may have to listen to and discuss a particular type of music or song. Based on the feedback, the therapist may analyze his patient’s emotional state. Certain lyrics or parts of a song may also bring up important memories which a therapist may discuss in another session. Other possible exercises include group sessions, dancing, singing, and other musical expressions.

If you wish to know more about other music therapy techniques, you can always ask them for more information. For concerns which might affect your treatment (maybe performing in front of other people makes you especially anxious), it would be good to make it clear with your therapist even before your program begins. “Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.” Chris Corbett, PsyD explains.

 

In conclusion, a majority of the patients find the said therapy to be a very effective and uplifting form of psychotherapy. It has been proven helpful in addressing cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems. Through one-on-one and group sessions, it may even help improve a patient’s interpersonal skills. As both an alternative and a complement to other types of therapies, mainstream music therapy is a great choice for many people hoping to improve their quality of life.

What Art Therapy Can Do To Children With Special Needs 

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When we look at art, it talks to us in a way we cannot explain. There is no sound nor text, but somehow, we understand what the artist conveys. There is an invisible yet incredible communication that happens. That is how powerful art is. That is the reason why we use art therapy as a tool to address different kinds of mental health issues in children such as anxiety and panic attacks, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, etc. 

  Continue reading What Art Therapy Can Do To Children With Special Needs 

Psychiatry: Teach Special Children Music And Art With Tender Loving Care 

Teaching children with special needs is a bit more challenging compared to children in a regular school. It requires double of everything because of their capabilities when it comes to communication. But when teachers find the right approach to getting into their fragile minds and emotions, the flow of the therapy is more efficient. Children dealing with mental health conditions will be able to express themselves and be more productive. 

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  Continue reading Psychiatry: Teach Special Children Music And Art With Tender Loving Care 

6 Songs That Are Ideal For Counseling Kids With Special Needs 

 

Music is a part of our way of life. Every one of us has a preference when it comes to it because just like food, it also nourishes our soul. And although there is music therapy which is designed to address mental health issues through using music primarily, it can be used as an aid or a tool to relax and find the inner emotions. 

 

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  Continue reading 6 Songs That Are Ideal For Counseling Kids With Special Needs 

How Traveling Inspired My Writing

Surely, every writer knows what it feels like to get stuck in a rut. Just the monotonous churning of life with very little room to gather inspiration and motivation. And no matter how you force yourself to start writing an extraordinary piece, there are just not enough stimuli to even let you write your first line. Woe is you.

 

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Continue reading How Traveling Inspired My Writing

Watch Out–These Things Are Unexpectedly Stressing You Out!

The 6 Surprising Stress Causers

You’ve beaten up the primary stressors in your life yet you still feel as if you’re a rubber band all stretched out. Well, surprise! There might be little things in your daily life that are causing your stress levels to go up without you knowing it.

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Continue reading Watch Out–These Things Are Unexpectedly Stressing You Out!

The Best Shows On Netflix You Need To Binge-Watch

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I think it is pretty much evident that whenever you want to watch some good shows, you immediately look for one on Netflix. As of now, it has been the most extensive channel that provides quality films and series. Not all can argue with that. Though there are other places to watch, still Netflix suits most of the people’s taste. I am not promoting, just stating facts. Since there are a lot of categories to choose from, you might get bombarded with all of that. So let me cut down the list for you and allow me to make some recommendations. Here are the shows you probably never heard on Netflix that you need to binge-watch.

Sex Education – It is Netflix’s most recent show that gathers a popular rating among teens and young adults. It is a fantastic show that is played by Asa Butterfield. He is the son of a sex therapist who uses the knowledge from her mom to help assist couples in his school. It includes providing therapy sessions and counseling to a bunch of teen couples who explore and have different sexual issues. Warning! The few first episodes may seem quite cringy, though. But I guarantee the overall lesson of the show is worth watching.

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Atypical – It is a unique show that seems underrated. But if you watch the whole series, you will agree that Netflix made a great choice on creating this one. It is a story about an autistic person played by Kier Gilchrist. He went on deciding his future by wanting to have a girlfriend regardless of his autism spectrum disorder. If you do not understand what autism is all about, then it is a great show that entirely gave justice and respect to the mental illness.

Mind Hunter – If you are a fan of action and mystery movies and shows, then this one is for you. The concept targets the exploration of psychological aspects of criminology. The storyline revolves around two FBI agents played by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany. Their task is to teach other police officers the right handling of situations where somebody has mental issues. If you are up for that, then this one is a great show.

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90210 – Yes, it sounds familiar because it is an adaptation from the old version of teen drama called Beverly Hills 90210 in the 1990s. It is all about the life stories of a bunch of high school kids. There is drama, thriller, comedy, romance, and mystery that sit in one show. It is a depiction of reality where the kids suffer from trauma, abuse, and neglect, which they use to create a character out of their personalities. It is funny, raw, and endearing. So if that is the kind of show you want to spend time with, it also worth it.

There are too many shows that you can watch from Netflix. Their originals are great and satisfying as well. There is no reason to feel bored because you can binge-watch depending on your choice of category.