Lance lives with an ongoing schizophrenic illness and mostly copes well in the community, where he attends a local centre providing ongoing support for people with enduring mental health problems. There’s a music therapy project at the centre, run by two music therapists (one of whom also works in the neighbouring psychiatric unit). Lance is a regular at the music group where he plays guitar and enjoys supporting other people’s songs. He’s also joined a more private singing group that happens on another day at the centre, where they spend time rehearsing songs and occasionally performing in local venues. When asked how music therapy helps him, Lance said that it makes him feel he can “contribute to making something successful and to help other people with their music. It makes me feel more confident.”
Inevitably, for people like Lance living with this illness, there are times that he needs treatment in the hospital (usually only every other year or so now). This isn’t pleasant for him, but he’s happy that on the wards there’s a music therapy group run by the therapist he knows from the day centre. Lance says that he usually doesn’t feel like making music when he’s in this state, but when he’s encouraged to do so within the group it makes him feel more human again. Whilst he’s on the ward, Lance describes the music therapy group as “a place of human warmth and enjoyment and a haven from intrusive bad thoughts and depression.”
When Lance is well enough, he can pick up the threads of his music-making outside of the hospital again. There’s a sense of a ‘musical pathway’ for him between states of illness and health.
“I feel that somehow music is holding my hand through all this,” he says.
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