Why I Love Being a Telemusictherapy Provider
by Jordan Bailey, MT-BC
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all experienced changes and adjustments to several aspects of our normal day-to-day lives.
As a music therapist typically providing services in the homes of my clients, there was a great amount of uncertainty surrounding how these in-person sessions would continue with safety and social distancing in mind. Seeing many clients, some of whom are immuno-compromised, I knew that music therapy in my clients’ homes would have to be paused indefinitely. Technology has allowed us an innovative alternative that we can use to continue providing sessions.
Here are some great things that I have experienced while providing teletherapy.
Sometimes I joke that scheduling is a part of the top 10 most difficult tasks of being a traveling music therapist. There are times when scheduling lines up perfectly, but with numerous clients having their own varying schedules and differing locations, it’s easy to see how this could cause a bit of an issue.
With my schedule practically open during this pandemic, I emailed my clients options to schedule their appointments online. They signed up for the times they wanted with ease using Google Appointment slots that synced directly to my business calendar. My clients had more options than I could usually offer because I did not have to factor in geography or the time it takes to commute from one client’s home to another.
A benefit of having this flexibility is that if no-shows or missed visits happen to occur, it might be easier to make them up. I prefer having sessions back to back with short breaks in between, others prefer scheduling their sessions with more space in between. The flexibility of teletherapy gives you a little more control over scheduling, you can schedule in a way that fits your work preference.
Convenience of Working from Home
As a traveling music therapist, I’ve calculated the amount of money that I spend on gas and also my mileage per week and sometimes it can be quite substantial. Through the use of technology, I can still see clients that I normally drive anywhere from 30 to 60 miles to see without ever getting behind the wheel. So, in this way, teletherapy is a very fiscally beneficial alternative. With the amount of driving involved, there is an accelerated amount of natural vehicle wear and tear. It’s great that this can be avoided or minimized.
There are also a few ways this can be beneficial to our health during this time. This allows me to still provide music therapy sessions and also keep socially distanced. In the future, I can see this as a good way to provide sessions to my clients when I feel under the weather or when they might be sick. In turn, I feel that it could help me in preventing the spread of illness to and from others in my caseload.
Providing music therapy from the home gives you the opportunity to create your own environment to work in. When the workday is over, you’re already comfortably at home to decompress.
As far as the environment goes, I can reiterate that less fuel is used which in turn reduces emissions as well, but what I have experienced most is the reduction of paper usage. There are so many items that I normally have to print off weekly, whether they are chord sheets for clients with instrument playing goals, visuals, or other documents. I never realized how much paper I was using.
Through teletherapy, I have found it easiest to send a link for any chord sheets, videos, or visuals that might be used during the session. Also, other specified documents like timesheets and progress notes that are typically printed, documented, and mailed off weekly are now being accepted electronically which is very promising going forward.
One of my main concerns with missing consecutive sessions was the loss of client progress. Through teletherapy, my clients can resume their access to music therapy services and continue to have their individualized goals addressed. They are able to continue their routine to a certain extent and strengthen their skills. This is a plus for those who thrive on routine.
Teletherapy also opens the opportunity to maintain the therapeutic relationship between MT-BC and client if in-person sessions cannot take place.
With all of the changes at hand, lots of adjustments have had to be made to the normal ins and outs of my sessions. Teletherapy has caused a sudden spark of creativity! Having to find ways to alter old interventions so they can be presented online has shown that there are very many possibilities to create brand new ones in a new way. With more possibilities comes more ways to interact.
I’ve noticed this specifically with new games and new ideas for the presentation of movement interventions in a way that can help continue to effectively address the clients’ needs.
Telehealth sessions have been a very unique and rewarding learning experience. What are some great things that you’ve experienced as a telehealth provider? Let us know in the comments below!