Friday, 4 November 2011

Conference Thoughts part six

After the Hero's Journey experience, it was time for something a bit different, so I went to a series of short case study presentations. The first was called "Music Therapy and the bodily experience: a case of infantile psychosis" This referred in particular to the ideas of Margaret Mahler and illustrated them with a case study about a young boy who found it easier to have his music therapy sessions in a tree house. One could speculate on the meaning of this - the protective nature of it for example - but it is also an example of how a therapist has to be flexible. We usually like to control the environment we work in, and don't like to be taken out of it, so congratulations to Marieke for having the courage to follow her client up a tree!
She was followed by Kathinka Poismans about Music Therapy with autistic children. She has developed a measure of synchrony in her sessions called INTIME. Before talking about this, she explained the innate musicality that we all have - our ability to share a pulse with others, to be rhythmical and the way that our communication occurs in phrases and narratives (Stephen Malloch 1999). She also referred to clock genes (Nicholas et al 2007), which might be seen as our internal sense of timing. Apparently these genes are missing in people with autism.
The INTIME measure involves analysing short sections of sessions and allocating them to three categories:
1. No shared time
2. Shared beat
3.Dialogical exchange
This seems very simple, but actually gives a very good picture of the quality of the interaction and how it can vary from moment to moment.
The last of the three presentations was by Art Therapist Frances Prokofiev, who is also a tutor on the Goldsmiths College Art Therapy course. This was about children who have suffered early maternal deprivation, resulting in disorganised attachments. She agreed with art therapist Caroline Case who said that, with these children, doing things together is more important than analysis. With a particular client, this involved making rackets and playing tennis together, as well as voicework - so not "pure" art therapy as such. This related to the theme of my paper, to be given the following day, about using different art forms in our work while retaining our identity in our own art form.
After lunch I headed off to the Palazzo Ducale and this splendid room for a workshop by my former colleague, Jeanette MacDonald, with the wonderful title of If you should meet a Crocodile. We had a lot of serious fun in this workshop, exploring the characteristics of crocodiles - fierce, but also very gentle to their offspring, covered in plating. We created images of crocodiles, and wrote words we associated with them, and explored how some aspects of crocodiles can be seen in our own natures (the most primitive part of our brain is the Reptilian Brain) We then did some movement worked associated with our images and words.
We were also each given prints of artwork designed to provoke a strong reaction. The odd thing is I liked mine! It was in grey pencils I think, abstract in form, but there appeared to be a knight in armour lurking within, and some musical notation. For some reason this struck a chord with me - the musical connection is obvious, but knight in rather dull armour? I can be very guarded and defensive when I feel under attack, criticised. Maybe that is what  made this picture resonate for me. We then moved around the room in response to these pictures, and I attempted to shape my body the way it appeared the knight was standing. Jeanette then played a mean trick on us, asking to move around the room while listening to a song performed in two very different styles - one very emotive with string backing (the kind I tend to hate) and a reggae infused version. Obviously we danced around in very different styles, the latter being more laid back. She then told us that she would never use music in her sessions, because it influences movement so strongly. It was lovely to see Jeanette again - she has had an awful few years, but seems to be finding some equilibrium in her life now.
The next post will describe my final, enjoyable, night in Lucca, and the experience of giving my presentation before dashing off to catch the train and plane.

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