My name is Dianne Sawyer and I have been with ADEC going on two years. I am a part of the Family and Children Services, practicing as a music therapist. I work with clients at The Plaza, ADEC Industries, and Mishawaka Day Program. I am lucky enough to work with several adults and children after school.

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a music therapist, mostly because I didn’t know such a thing existed!  But after deciding I wanted to be a music therapist, I learned shortly thereafter I wanted to work with individuals with varying ages and abilities. I love meeting new people and learning about them.  I also enjoy the relationships you build with each client as you work with them each week. Working with ADEC provides these opportunities, and as a result, I have found this line of work to be extremely rewarding.

Each week, I start my sessions by checking in with my clients to see how their week is going. They’re excited to tell me about what they made during arts and crafts, or what they won during Bingo, or even that they went grocery shopping and then helped make a meal. Nothing beats seeing their excitement while talking about what they’ve achieved or accomplished.

Often, I am lucky enough to be able to share in their accomplishments. There is one client who comes to mind when I think of accomplishments. This client became upset easily and wasn’t quite sure how to cope with his frustrations. From the very first day I began working with him, he told me he wanted to learn to play the guitar. He told me he always wanted to learn to play 80’s heavy metal band music on the electric guitar, specifically. At that point I knew I would be shifting my classical music training to the side and was going to be letting my hair down, just a little bit, and rocking out. This quickly became something he looked forward to and was able to incorporate into his daily life as a coping technique when he became frustrated.

As soon as I see him now, he starts walking towards me asking to learn about music theory and how to play different chords and then names a couple songs he wants to learn.  Over the past couple of years, he has faced some big challenges, challenges that would cause anyone to become frustrated at the drop of a hat.  Nonetheless, even though he hasn’t always felt like “rocking out,” he still asks to play chords he has learned and play along with some of his favorite bands. Since we have been working together, his team members have shared that he does not become upset as easily and he enjoys playing on his electric guitar at home with the sheet music he has been working on.

That is just one example of why working with clients at ADEC is so incredibly rewarding!  Add this experience with 100 more experiences just like it, and that is why I look forward to sharing music with them.  The moment I see them get excited about achieving their goal and see them smiling and laughing while singing or dancing, nothing beats it.  There are moments more challenging than others, but even those moments are learning opportunities for both the client and me.  We grow together personally and professionally while continuing to build the client-therapist relationship during those moments.  The thought of having meaningful relationships with individuals and helping them grow while they unknowingly help me grow, is the most rewarding part out of all of this.

Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a series on staff perspectives across ADEC.

Photo by Rod Tackett / Communications Specialist