5 Self-Care Tips for Music Therapists During Sessions

As music therapists, we all know how important self-care is, yet it can be so easy to let it slip away with a busy caseload and plenty to get done from day to day. We often talk about what we can do for ourselves on our own time to maintain our well-being. Knowing what works for you to feel emotionally, socially, and physically well outside of your music therapy practice is key, however today I would like to share some tips for practicing self-care during our music therapy work and not just away from it. These are all techniques I have personally used as they have applied to my work. I hope that some of them will resonate with you or give you your own ideas that will be more applicable to your self-care needs during sessions.

1. Visualization

Using visualization techniques has always been something that I have found useful when it comes to yoga, meditation, and all aspects of self-care. I have especially found that using visualization techniques can help remind me of certain things throughout sessions and help me to maintain healthy boundaries with clients that contribute to my well-being and of course that of my clients. One example, is if you are working with a client whose situation or circumstances you may find particularly emotionally draining and the moment you walk into the room you can feel their energy affecting yours to an extent that is distracting and perhaps causing you to feel down and drained outside of the session. Of course, this situation likely merits you to do some processing, seek supervision, or consult with your own therapist to work out any transference or countertransference occurring. In the meantime, here is a visualization technique you can try before entering the session.

Close your eyes and set your intention

i.e., I want to be fully present for my client, yet protect myself and my emotional well-being

Pick a colour that resonates with your intention

As you inhale and exhale, imagine a thin layer of this colour washing over your body

Scan your body slowly, starting from your toes and working your way up to the top of your head

Use this layer as a representation of the boundary and barrier you need for this session

Make this layer malleable throughout the session

If you feel you need more of it - breathe in a few times and make the layer thicker

If you feel you need less of it, let it slowly wash away.

2. Lean Back

In one of my favourite classes in music therapy studies, ‘Counselling Skills’, we video recorded mock