Later this week I will be starting to run two new Music Therapy groups for children with autism through the National Autistic Society. This is a return to working with children for me as have been focusing on my adult work for the past couple of years. I really do have that back-to-school, new term feeling as I leave an amazing summer behind and dig out the new stationery, shiny new instruments and have a head full of new ideas!
Setting up a new group requires a lot of thought and practical considerations. I’ve had to consider where it will be, time, how many children, age range, individual and group aims, support staff, instruments and communication aids. All of this comes before even meeting the members of the group and starting at the very beginning of getting to know them and how Music Therapy might help them.
The group will grow in size as the term goes on. In a way this is quite nice as we’ll get to know a couple of children to begin with and gradually include more as they are referred. Hopefully I’ll also be able to think about who will fit into each group based on needs, personalities etc.
However, as ever with therapy, you can plan and put in place everything to start setting the group boundaries but essentially I will still be going into the unknown and having to respond to the children in the moment. Perhaps because the work is with children with autism and also through being a little nervous my instinct is to keep it very structured and under control. My experience tells me that this will help to a certain extent but eventually I will have to trust my intuition as a Music Therapist and allow the children and myself space within that structure to improvise, create, respond and find our way as we grow together as a group.