During my training and subsequent employment (in NHS, education, and private sector), I found myself in a survival state of functioning during music therapy work, and in a state of shutdown outside of this work. As mentioned above, some parts of this were during moments I experienced pro-longed health improvement, and others were during a time of steep decline. Again, not necessarily for any reason that I, nor my doctors could pin-point. I event find myself trying to justify to you, the reader, as to why I attempted to continue my work when I was so ill. It is still a question I ponder on, almost one year after deciding to take a break on clinical work.
After a while, travelling on the tube was not an option for me due to the sensory over-stimulation and physical demands of extended walking needed to reach my destination. As a profession, we are extremely flexible and thoughtful about recognising how our clients physically get to the therapy room. What barriers might they face and how can we make it happen? But when it comes to therapists with additional needs, why do we think so rigidly? You are either well or not, I was told by a colleague who was probably trying to protect me but left me deeply hurt. I was sharply reminded of this when a headteacher ushered me out of a lift to allow the student in a wheelchair in before me, prompting me to take the two-flights of stairs instead (even though she know of my limitations). In NHS job descriptions under 'essential requirement' is the responsibility to carry instruments around to various locations. In most job adverts, a job-share is not explicitly stated for those who might not be able to commit to full-time work. I have personally enquired about this recently and was met with an uncomfortable response. We cannot claim to be disability confident if we make these kinds of assumptions about possible employees. What if we were to ask the questions; how can we support you to get to work safely; do you know what your physical limitations might be for carrying instruments; if not, how can we support you to figure this out?
Thankfully, I also experienced and still experience some very positive relationships within my employment experience. This was made possible due to the level of empathy and open-mindedness of my managers which made for a secure and safe relationship. These relationships enabled me, over time, to communicate my needs openly and discuss my needs and requirements. I'm so truly grateful to these individuals for facing their own unconscious bias to enable inclusivity into the profession. The problem with this is that I shouldn't really feel grateful for getting what I need. It's a basic human right to be offered the same level of opportunities as the next person. Sadly, this is far-reaching reality for many.