Susan is a middle-aged woman with a long-standing mental health problem, currently living in a nursing home. She had heard about music therapy at her local MIND group.
Before becoming ill she had played the piano and studied music theory. Despite the years of medication, increasing physical difficulties and a degree of isolation, her musical ability has remained relatively unimpaired.
When she first came for music therapy Susan had a little trouble understanding that the session was not a lesson. She found it hard to relax and play with the instruments. Over time she has got used to improvising with support: often playing the piano for the whole session. When she plays she reveals something of her musical self: fragments of pieces she learned, a whole range of feelings, an ability to connect creatively.
Susan has now bought her own lyre (a small harp), which she brings most weeks. She has also acquired a keyboard and has started reading music again. Part of her session sometimes includes me helping her with pieces she has been playing, although I need to be very sensitive in my approach, backing away when she gets overwhelmed with information.
Susan is really motivated to come. After the sessions she says she feels very relaxed. She has found a satisfying creative outlet where she can contact a part of herself that is well. Some of her symptoms appear to have reduced. It seems that music therapy is preventing further deterioration and significantly enhancing her present quality of life.
*name has been changed to protect confidentiality