Gravestock, Joy

Being here, being me, being with you: making connections, a three-year music therapy with an adopted girl with significant multiple disablities.

Joy Gravestock

Sometimes when a child is born with disabilities, parents cannot face the implications for life, and relinquish their child to adoption. My client was placed into the care of the local authority at birth and adopted at 8 months old. She has a diagnosis of Downs syndrome, with complex associated life-threatening physical problems. Because her disability narrative is inseparable from her adoption narrative, her re-attachment needs in placement have been huge, and rooted in her very identity as a disabled child. First referred to music therapy aged three, she had an initial year of work, and subsequently a further two years were granted (funded via the Adoption Support Fund in the UK). She remains in therapy. This paper will explore video of significant relational and musical moments, juxtaposed with written reflections offered spontaneously by her adopter at these times. The work forms part of my current research and highlights the importance of both client and therapist in the intersubjective relationship, where attunement and attachment are central. It also emphasises the long-term nature of such work and why the author argues this is essential for relational music therapy with complex attachment issues.



Joy Gravestock specialises in psychoanalytic, attachment-based, relational music therapy for adoptees (with pre-adoption severe trauma experience) and their families. Her PhD research (and forthcoming book) explores how wounded bodies, minds, spirits and souls may repair from trauma effects via micro moments of attunement within an embodied musical therapeutic relationship.