I was in a coffee shop when a son and father entered discussing the closure of schools for the rest of the year. It was Thursday, March 12th, 2020. I was on a business trip checking in with the Find Your Voice Music Therapy Katarokwi/ Kingston, ON team and community. My heart sank at the realization that the pandemic was officially impacting Canada.
Although I knew this day would come eventually, the reality of this news was still very surreal. I knew that this would not be an easy transition for our community as we served many young people and members of vulnerable populations.
Confronting the Change from In Person to Online Music Therapy
With coffee in hand I sat in reflection at a local art gallery with many emotions flooding my body- the fear, the anxiety, the grief, the strength, the love, the determination. I knew that we had to figure out a way that Find Your Voice Music Therapy could continue to serve our community. Now more than ever there was a calling to offer support and be of service as we all navigated this major transition.
We launched online music therapy and counselling services on Monday, March 16th, 2020. The pivot was fast including a lot of learning on how to transition our model of music therapy that was designed for in person connections. As well as diving into the technology world with learning various video conference platforms, webcams, and microphones. It wasn’t perfect, it was a beautiful mess really, that very much reflected life’s ebbs and flows.
The Benefits of Online Music Therapy Revealed
Online music therapy and counselling has provided support to many of our clients throughout the pandemic.
1. Providing Safe Space for Immunocompromised Individuals
Online music therapy and counselling provides a space for immunocompromised individuals to be in the safety of their home while receiving music therapy and counselling. We have noticed that there has been an increase in connection with family members, loved ones and staff in providing additional support (i.e. technology set up, onsite support) during the session. As in traditional onsite music therapy or counselling sessions family members, loved ones and facility staff are often not present.
2. Increasing Comfort Levels for Creative & Self-Expression
For some we have observed increased comfort with creative and self expression. It appears that some individuals feel more open and safe to share their thoughts and feelings. In an online music therapy setting it has been difficult to create music together due to the lag of connection to make music in real time. In practice we often mute group participants when we do group music making to create optimal sound quality and experience for group members. An unexpected benefit here has been that for some there has been an increase of singing and playing instruments in online group sessions.
3. Opportunity for Strong Attention & Focus
At the opposite end of the spectrum we have also noted some individual’s experience is that when they are in online sessions they are not as focused due to them observing their facial expressions and being attentive to an idealistic physical presentation of self. The Find Your Voice Music Therapy team has also noted some cases where online sessions have been very well received in that there is very strong attention and focus for session duration. This has occurred in a number of cases with younger individuals. Perhaps due to their connection towards technology such as video games, television, and online social connections (i.e. social media, chat rooms).
4. Accessibility and Flexibility with Scheduling
Online music therapy has also provided an opportunity for flexibility with scheduling new clients for our team. With the elimination of travel time, scheduling can be more flexible to work around other life commitments for both clients and team members. We’ve also received feedback from our Find Your Voice Music Therapy community that online sessions have given clients increased accessibility especially those who have physical challenges. The online sessions remove stress about mobility considerations for sessions outside their home, including planning and preparations with transportation, leaving clients free to participate fully in music therapy sessions.
5. Connecting with Rural and Distance Clients
Find Your Voice Music Therapy has also been able to increase connections with clients across Canada including rural parts of our community. We do miss in person connections and are grateful over the past weeks of beginning to integrate in person sessions for local clients, following federal and provincial health and safety guidelines. We know and value the way that in person sessions continue to provide an opportunity to connect energetically with our clients and to create music together in body.
Continuing to Find Value in Online Services
Although the prompt pivot to online music therapy was not a walk in the park we are grateful for this additional service offering with Find Your Voice Music Therapy. Giving our community in Katarokwi/ Kingston, ON, K’jipuktuk/ Halifax, NS, and now Canadians an opportunity to have access to therapy in a way that is meaningful for the individual.
For more information or to discuss how online music therapy can benefit you or your loved one, please contact Find Your Voice Music Therapy.
Owner and Founder of Find Your Voice Music Therapy
Certified Music Therapist & Registered Counselling Therapist
1-800-827-3120 ext. 101