In need of ANOTHER plan

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Music Therapy

I’ve thinking about J recently.  J was the young lady that came into my adult group back in October and caused me to completely revamp my sessions (read all about it here and here).  I remember how frazzled I felt after the first group she was in.  I knew I needed to do something, and I wasn’t looking forward to the process.

After my adult group Friday, I actually found myself looking back at those idyllic times with a bit of nostalgia.

There’s a new consumer in the adult program – N2 (N1 was around in my first posts, and still is, thus the numerical indicator).  N2 is a SCREAMER.  She really does not want to be here.  I don’t know if it’s specifically here that she doesn’t want to be, or that she just wants to be anywhere that isn’t where she currently is.  I’m not sure of her age, but probably somewhere in the 50s.  She will scream in this strangled fingernails-on-chalkboard type of way that deafens and pierces at the same time.  She will also express her displeasure by giving raspberries, throwing items, flipping the bird, cursing
(which she does in a sing-song voice that would be comical if it weren’t so foul), and occasionally taking a swipe at someone.

Friday’s session was a nightmare.  N2 had been in one music group before, and hadn’t been terribly disruptive.  However, in this group, she was constantly getting up and heading for the door.  When she was cut off by staff, she would turn around and shuffle back to her seat, usually while screaming right in my ear.  Not IN my ear, I just happen to sit close to the door so I got the full brunt of the scream.  She would raise her middle finger when someone asked her to do something, or she would flat out refuse.  If she did have an instrument, she might shake it a few times, then she’d toss it.  Then she’d get up and head for the door, occasionally singing a very offensive song to herself.  N1 wasn’t helping anything since she was cranky the entire time as well.  N1 frequently has bad Fridays, and this one was probably made even worse since it was a full moon.  Plus, it was a big group that included one other new consumer (B) who was occupying his staff’s attention by frequently swatting him.

Comparing N2 to J probably isn’t fair.  They’re really nothing alike.  J loved music, but got bored when there was a break in the action.  She was also quick, and could be out the door before staff could react.  N2 is not quick.  She shuffles, so it’s easier to cut her off.  But if she doesn’t want to be there, she’s not going to make life easy.

Today was better.  I shuffled some things around to give people more stuff to do throughout.  N2 had a better day.  She did get up to leave a few times, but did not accompany her aborted attempts to leave with screams.  She screamed a couple of times, but not in my ear and with far less intensity than on Friday.  She also actually played a few instruments, only throwing one.  So, overall, I’m encouraged.  I’m not sure it was anything I did – N1 was having a great day, so the mood in the room was less tense than Friday.  We’ll see how it goes when we have group next week.

The program here is still trying to figure N2 out, so it may be a while before I can get a good plan.  Unlike with J, I have no idea what to do with N2.  Other than ignoring the behaviors and making sure she knows what is expected of her, I’m not sure what to do.  Whatever happens, we’ll keep trucking on.


  1. Roia says:

    Is it at all possible N2 misses the former music therapist? You mentioned she’d been in another music group before and hadn’t been so disruptive. I’m just wondering if maybe she had worked at developing a relationship with the other leader (you didn’t say, actually, if it was another music therapist), and maybe the other leader didn’t do any kind of closure with her. Lots of people assume that folks with disabilities aren’t going to be upset if they just disappear from their lives. And lots of folks would be wrong about that. You could try asking her if that was the case. She may be afraid you’ll disappear as well. Just a thought.

    • themtguy says:

      Sorry…when I said that she had been in one other music group, I meant that she had been in one previous session that I had led. She’s been doing great since that post – she’s actually been walking in the door requesting songs (Yellow Submarine in particular).

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