Tag Archives: therapy

The Time It Takes

“Just so that we can remember this for next time…”, Therapist says. “How long did it take you before you started feeling settled in this new job?”

I slow-blink several times.

“Probably… two and a half…. three? Weeks?”

“Ok. So let’s take it as 3 weeks. 3 weeks is about the time your body needs to settle into a new place. This might be helpful to remember next time you embark on somewhere or something new.” Therapist smiles kindly at me.

“There’s a voice inside me saying that I SHOULDN’T take that long.”

“Well, this is a fact. There’s no should or shouldn’t about it.”

Post-session, I think about where that voice comes from.

“You shouldn’t take that long.”

As if there’s a fixed timeline for how long one should take to get settled in a new job. As if there’s a fixed period to measure how successful one is at assimilating into a new culture. As if there’s criteria to determine how quickly one’s nervous system should settle when encountering new sights, smells and all the subtle sensory information in the environment.

“You shouldn’t take that long.”

I imagine this comes from the unconscious conditioning we receive. The deeply embedded culture that glorifies results and products over process and journey. Such that when we encounter something taking longer than it “should”, like settling into a new job, the voice comes up.

“You shouldn’t take that long.”

“It’s ok to take the time you need.”

I like this one better.

Music Collage

At a session one evening, we did something called a Music Collage. The process involves participants choosing a theme, actively listening to a recorded piece of music, selecting images from a range of pictures to fit the theme, depending on how they interpret and think about it, and sharing which aspects of their collage stood out the most for them.

The theme we chose was Movement vs Stillness, and the music selected was Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2, 1st movement.

“The person on the wheelchair… because it seems like he is still, but at the same time I realised the wheelchair is also about movement.. and I realise… it’s all about perspective. There is no full movement or full stillness. It is all how you look at it.”

“I feel that my collage represents my… character. Like, sometimes I can be really active and loud and outgoing, but other times I will just be quiet and still. So there is no picture that stands out for me.”

“I feel like the music was describing something bad about to happen. So I chose the picture of this crab… the music is describing the journey of the crab as it’s about to be killed and cooked and eaten… from movement to stillness..”

Through their insights and sharing, I have got to know this group of people over the past 2 months. Their personalities, sense of humour, quirks and what means the most to them. And with the time that has flown by, we are also on the brink of parting ways. It has been a blessing to be with them on this journey, one I will always be thankful for.

Expressive Writing

According to Google:

Expressive writing is personal and emotional writing without regard to form or other writing conventions like spelling, punctuation and verb agreement.”

I guess I should explain. A coursemate and I are currently on placement at an acute mental health unit. We conduct MT sessions with the patients, as well as attend some of the sessions the other allied health staff conduct. This session, with expressive writing, was conducted by an occupational therapist. It’s supposed to be a really effective technique to improve thought awareness and alertness, and for emotional release.

“Just let your writing flow”, the OT said. “Don’t worry about punctuation, sentence structure or anything like that. If you run out of things to write, just repeat what you have written. The most important thing is to not stop writing. Take a few deep breadths, and begin.”

With the pen and paper in front of me, I had no idea what to expect from myself. But the moment we were told to begin, I felt the metaphorical switch in my mind strangely click, and my hand started to move.

In the woods walking down a little pathway the road is muddy the trees are tall and they cast shadows on me. I can see the sun coming through the leaves it looks so far away I wonder how we feel the warmth when its so far away. The forest is meant to be green but why does it feel black it must be because of all the shadows. I walk and walk and hear a stream I go closer and closer until I can see it the water flows over the rocks which are wet and slippery. I stand on them careful not to fall. I worry that I may slip but I want to be near the water the water makes me calm and at peace. The sound of the stream is like the hope from the shadows. the footpath is slippery but I continue to navigate I explore the stream see where it leads. Somewhere it becomes a waterfall somewhere it begins.

After some sentences into the writing, I realised my mind was going back to the experience I had just a few days before this session took place – I was expanding on a previous experience.

The woods we were in was nothing like what I had described in the writing, of course. But somehow m mind twisted that, setting the context for when we discovered the stream and I had my first experience walking among rocks like these. And indeed, further up ahead, there was a waterfall.

But those are stories for another time. For now, placement continues, and the stories continue..

The World Persists

Today, our lecturer showed us a video in which a non-verbal autistic male  was interacting with his therapist through a percussion instrument. He would echo the rhythmic naunces of the therapist/pianist, who was taking cues form him as well. It was, in every sense of the word, a conversation. A musical conversation.

“But it took him 6 weeks to get here.” We were told. “When he first came, he would do nothing but walk around the room and make abrupt noises. His carer and therapist could not engage him in anything at all.”

The breakthrough point came when a guitar was presented to him, and his hands were guided to make strumming motions. That, together with some singing and further musical interaction, strengthened his focus, to the point when he was able to use an instrument independently to hold a conversation.

I was quite taken aback. 6 weeks to achieve something we all take for granted – communication.

It led me to think about how we tend to rush too many things in today’s world. Things that might need more time. We forget that just because some things don’t happen in time, it doesn’t mean that they will never happen. It doesn’t mean that the potential isn’t there.

A child who doesn’t do “well” for national exams at 12 years old, 16 years old – they aren’t doomed to failure.

A teacher who cannot manage the class “right” on her first day, first month, first term – it doesn’t mean that she can never be an effective teacher.

A grandmother who did not complete her primary school education – it doesn’t mean she can’t get her degree in her senior years.

Society imposes all these deadlines upon us, and we, in our desperate attempt to survive, try to meet all these deadlines. To prove that we can achieve certain things by a certain time, forgetting that we are all unique individuals, working on our own unique timeline and potential.

Sadly, even after we realise this and try to be more accepting of our own personal pace and journey, the world persists.