Experiencing Pleasure in Working with Severely Disabled Children
This qualitative research study examines the author's experience of pleasure in working as a music therapist with children with severe, multiple disabilities. The impetus for the study came when she experienced great pleasure in working with these children, and sought to better understand what made the experience so enjoyable. Videotapes of music therapy sessions were studied from several angles, and the following categories into which enjoyable experiences fit were formulated: Intentionality (allowing assistance, continuing on own after assisted initiation, initiation upon request, spontaneous initiation); emotionality (smiling, physical closeness); communication (humming, specific sounds or words);and mutuality (with another child, with therapist, upon re-quest, with physical cues, spontaneous). Themes of responsiveness and expectations were found to run throughout the author's experience of pleasure, and she relates these themes to other areas of her life. Possible applicability to others, both in ways in which the findings might be used directly, and ways in which themes (such as her themes of responsiveness and expectations) might be used to increase others' understanding of themselves as therapists, are discussed. It is suggested that when music therapists make connections between their personal lives and clinical enjoyment, it can help them to find more pleasure in their work and thus better serve their clients.