Soul Care Jazz: Managing Meaning in the Jazz of Life
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Background: In the late 1990s, a serious motor vehicle accident in East Africa left me with 17 broken or displaced bones. My near-severed right foot was reattached. My heart stopped three times in the first six hours. Two skull fractures caused personality changes and cognitive impairments, creating a sense of a foreshortened future. I lost hope. The musical manuscript of my life lay shredded. Like a jazz musician, I learned to improvise a new way of being. Objective: To explore and describe how meaning attributions in times of disjuncture become central to counseling psychotherapy. Method: Thoughtful interaction with reflective writing and research literature regarding trauma, loss and grief, creates the critical conversation captured in this manuscript thesis. Stylistically it reflects a jazz form. Discussion: Emotional support is important in rebuilding adaptive behaviors and self-efficacy. Emotional vulnerability underlies many barriers preventing appropriate improvisation and adaptive responses. Metaphors of hope replace metaphors of despair in the therapeutic, minimizing sequelae of stress and fostering positive meaning making. Jazz metaphors frame adaptive responses to intrusive life events, shaping coping behavior and self-understandings. Conclusions: The serious yet playful nature of jazz improvisation forms a powerful metaphor assisting therapists and clients to discover fresh ways of meaning making that promote adaptive responses to intrusive life events.