By Isaac Lizzit
I became a Disability Support Worker in 2017 whilst completing my undergraduate studies. I don’t know what initially drove me towards the job but I thought I’d try something new alongside my retail job and my studies. I was tolerating my retail work and my music and psychology studies but I still hadn’t found a passion or drive.
So, I began support work with my first client… I was feeling pretty nervous and I didn’t really know what to do or say when I met them. It had gone well, and so well that within my first few months I was working with three clients and their families. Now my so called ‘side gig’ was turning into my main job. I wondered why I kept taking on support work clients when I knew I was already overloaded? I think I found the answer and in doing so, found my passion and my drive. It was caring.
I was a stranger being let into the houses of people who were going through a variety of different challenges. I felt extreme gratitude and privilege to hear the stories of my clients and play a small part on the journey towards their goals. I suppose my passion for caring and love of music led me to a path of studying music therapy.
Fast forward to now, I have completed post-graduate studies and I am working as a Registered Music Therapist. From the get go, I realised there were a few differences between being a music therapist and a support worker. I realised I was spending less time with families and the work had stricter boundaries given music therapy is an allied health profession.
Despite these differences, I was adamant on using what I learnt as a support worker in my new profession. As a new graduate music therapist, I am aware of these differences and these are the things I am trying to apply to my practice:
Meaningful Impact – Given the shorter duration of therapy sessions, I found it important to provide the same meaningful impact that a longer support work shift would have. I realised that the 45 minute snapshot I had of the client may not represent their overall presentation at home or school. I am thinking of creative ways to learn more about my client and their story – whether it be communicating with parents/caregivers, teachers, support workers, or even other allied health professionals.
Family-Centred Care – I have found that the wellbeing of the family unit is just as important as the wellbeing of the client you work with. This involves connecting with parents/caregivers on how their child is going, what they are feeling, and even providing them with support on how they can use music as a resource within the household.
Genuine Care – My belief is that genuine care comes when you truly appreciate the privilege you have to be a part of a family’s ecosystem, their space, their stories, their successes, and their challenges. You are invested in their goals through the work you do.
Both jobs are so different, yet similar. My experiences as a support worker have made me a better music therapist and have taught me what it means to provide meaningful care.
Isaac is a Registered Music Therapist based in Melbourne, Australia. Isaac is passionate about delivering Music Therapy in caring, kind, and strength-based ways. He also advocates for neurodiversity in the healthcare space and in broader society.