For years and years I have given this extremely simple assignment to clients. Make a soundtrack for a specific period of your life. For most of my clients, I usually have them only encompass the time period in question; for example that last year before their divorce, or for a senior in high school, the last year of high school, etc. The purpose behind this assignment is that if I, as the therapist, listened to the soundtrack, the highs and lows, the conflicts and romances, then I could get a better idea of how they felt during those times, how to help them better and specifically, what music they identified with certain emotions in their lives.
Most of my clients also know that during your first session you will probably be asked, 1. If you could only listen to one CD for the rest of your life, what would it be, 2. What would be a song you want played at your wedding or birthday, and 3. What’s a song you want played at your funeral.
These questions allow us to become 3D so to speak, to others. Music speaks of our souls. Recently, a new client told me she had been listening over and over to Kid Rock’s CD and especially a song called “Rollercoaster”. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Kid Rock, one of the few differences between she and I, after listening to several of the tracks, I could start to understand what she was feeling and why she identified with these songs. It is almost as if music is the emotional translator.
A year ago I expanded on this assignment and had several clients suffering from depression make CD’s of “Happy Music”, and clients suffering from grief to make CD’s of “Sad Music” to help them get in their pain. I also had a teenage mother make a CD of music for her unborn daughter and I still listen to this CD today as I believe that it was made somewhere spiritually driven.
Music is in all of us, whether we’re dancing, tapping our feet, and just hearing it in our heads. This weekend, my boyfriend and I were going out to a club and I was not feeling entirely attractive. Having suffered from weight issues for a long time, I had packed on a new 10 pounds and was struggling finding something comfortable to wear. When I got in the car, he looked at me and I knew he could tell I was frustrated. He held up his IPOD. “What’s a song that when you hear it, it makes you feel sexy?” I thought about it for a minute and then I told him. Surprised, he found the song and as we drove to pick up our friend, I noticed the tension release and I began to feel sexier and sexier. As humorous as that sounds, even to me right now, I allowed the music to become my soundtrack in that moment. It became a magical potion rippling through my veins helping me to relax.
Think about the music that inspires you or helps you daily. When I’m thinking about my mom, I listen to Bob Dylan or Judy Collins, when I think about my younger days I listen to The Smiths, The Grateful Dead or Willie Nelson, and the other night, well, it was “Toy Soldiers” by Britney Spears, but yes I felt sexy! Find the music that supplies the answers and then have it ready, like medicine in a travel first aid kit.
A small secret I must admit though, through the years, I’ve had clients bring in these CD’s so I could “listen to their soundtrack and get a better idea of their lives.” While this is true, I’ve been exposed to music I would never have heard before. So thank you all who have contributed to my soundtrack! And like Jerry said, “What a long, strange trip it’s been!”