Today and on the 25th of every month of 2012 I have invited 12 of the most influential people in my life to share a blog post with you!  Each has influenced me both professionally and personally. My hope is that the knowledge, kindness, creativity, and compassion they have shared with me will reflect through their post in a way that YOU will be encouraged, entertained, challenged and strengthened to continue to strive for excellence as a professional and as a person.  

Who cares for the caregiver? 

Suzanne Hanser and I wrote about caring for the self in our book, Manage Your Stress and Pain through Music.  “We have learned our lessons well. Our experiences in managing our own struggles have inspired us as professional music therapists….By focusing on the music within us, we can learn to look past our limitations, cope with stress, and relieve our pain” (Hanser & Mandel, 2010).

In this first month of 2012 many of us are newly committed to fulfill our New Year’s resolutions.  As music therapists we are concerned with caring for our clients and patients by sharing our selves through music.  As I allow myself time to recover from another spine surgery I consider “Who cares for the caregiver?”  Do your New Year’s resolutions include plans for your own improved well-being?

  • What nourishes your body?
  • What eases your mind?
  • What soothes your soul?

I challenge you to reflect upon these personal questions.  Do you prioritize time for yourself midst the busy-ness of each day?  Do you allow your self 30 minutes to exercise?  What about 10 minutes to play or listen to music?  How about 2 minutes to take a few cleansing breaths and to be mindfully aware?

Rabbi Hillel, an ancient Jewish scholar and theologian (30 BC – 9 AD), wisely wrote:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when?

Through my career as a music therapist I have learned that caring for others requires self care.  May these words encourage you to be for yourself as you are for others.  The time is now.

This Place Where I Reside

Thank you for this place,

The home where I reside.

I try to preserve order

Of all which is inside.

I’m responsible for maintenance,

Both daily and long-range.

Alert for occasions

When there is need for change.

Some repairs I can’t predict,

But know when they are needed.

I try to do my part to help

Assure they are completed.

This home may not be perfect;

It’s the only one I know.

It truly is a part of me,

A place where I can grow.

This place is precious to me,

My very own house-hold.

My body, home in which I live,

Haven for my soul.

©Susan E. Mandel


Hanser, S.B., & Mandel, S. E. (2010).  Manage your stress and pain through music. Boston: Berklee Press.

Susan E. Mandel, Ph.D., MT-BC (Suzi) is a board-certified music therapist specializing in stress and pain management in medical settings.  Suzi’s doctoral program focused on mind-body studies and music therapy research.  She serves as a music therapy consultant to Lake Health in northeast Ohio where she manages the music therapy program and developed music therapy research studies in cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes education, and integrative medicine and is working on a translational research study design.  Suzi sits on the Lake Health Wellness Institute steering committee and established two local music therapy hospice programs.  Suzi is on the doctoral faculty of the School of Advanced Studies (SAS) of University of Phoenix, where she teaches research and mentors students through the dissertation process.   In 2011 she was the first recipient of the University of Phoenix Scholarly Publishing Award for Healthcare Administration as well a Faculty Research Grant for her research of music therapy in an integrative medicine program.

Suzi published articles in Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives, Cardiology Review, Journal of Palliative Care, and Palliative Medicine, and produced a compact disc recording with Daniel Kobialka, Harmony of Mind & Body: A MARI Experience