When I arrive, she’s sitting at a cafe table in the Te Atatu Peninsula sunshine. She beams and envelops me in a giant hug. Maria Monet-Facoory (of Healing for Harmony and Balance) and I have known each other for many years – since we shared clinic space in Grey Lynn. Today I caught up with her to find out more about her new practice.
Since I last saw her, she’s changed her name (‘Reah’ back to ‘Maria’), gotten married (which has added the ‘Facoory’), and shifted her practice to beautiful Sunnynook on the North Shore.
She has a Graduate Diploma of Music Therapy, a Diploma of Remedial Massage, and a Diploma of Teaching, the first two attained in Australia where she went to pursue her training. These sets of skills marry beautifully into her two main streams of work – therapeutic massage and bodywork, and music therapy/teaching. She says it’s taken her a long time to publicly own that her work is healing for people, but that naming it feels right, and people seem to respond well.
So what is music therapy? According to the World Federation of Music Therapy, it involves using musical elements such as sound, rhythm, melody and harmony, to facilitate and promote communication, relationships, learning, mobilisation, expression and organisation in order to meet emotional, mental social and cognitive needs of the client. It can be used for prevention, rehabilitation or treatment.
If that all sounded like a bit of a mouthful – basically therapists use music in a therapeutic way to improve quality of life, at whatever stage of health/life a client might be at. Every session is different, but might include singing, listening, songwriting, percussion instruments, creative play, talking about emotions... and so on.
Maria has practiced in palliative care settings, with children with intellectual disabilities, in group and individual settings, as well as with clients of all ages with acute and chronic mental health needs, and those living with the effects of a stroke, Alzheimer's or Parkinson’s disease. She’s worked at Starship, the Cummins Unit at Sydney’s Royal Hospital and a hospice run by the Eastern Health Board. She lights up when she describes her work of 3.5 years with a young man with autism and congenital brain damage. He’s now able to choose music he likes, indicate his favourite sounds, and use the instruments Maria brings with her to experiment with melodies and rhythms.
I’m interested when she talks about the power of music to help people express emotions, how it helps people speak up, empower themselves, and be more assertive. She’s an expert in teaching people to overcome performance anxiety, which to me seems like a skill that once learnt, would extend far beyond stagefright. We know about the links between music and memory, and the power of music to soothe anxiety. I didn't know much about the practice of music therapy but in researching for this blog I discovered just how many applications where it's been successfully used - including in scientifically proven trials. As a psychologist I'm always interested in a discipline's evidence-base, so forgive the geeky research!
Maria’s music therapy work is a mobile service, so if you’re interested in finding out whether she might be right for you or a loved one, just ask – she will likely be able to come to you. Or if you need some extra self-care heading into winter – go see her at her Sunnynook clinic for a massage. She puts her heart and soul into her work, you’ll soon see that.
You can find her Facebook page here, and her Linkedin page here. And if you're interested in Vocal Psychotherapy - she's organising an international practitioner to deliver a two-day workshop in NZ this August. More info on that here.
This post is part of a series about health practitioners and ‘community contributors’ in and around Auckland. You can read a previous post about Te Whānau O Waipareira here. If there’s a service you’d like to know more about, let me know and I'll see what I can find out!