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  • Writer's pictureCCHO

Music reaches youth in the midst of their hurt

Updated: May 12, 2022

We are pleased to share about a new service within our children’s residential center (CRC) clinical team. This month we welcomed a music therapist to our staff as a way to build connections with our youth and help them express emotions and process trauma. Music therapy will be offered individually and in groups; all residents will have the opportunity to participate. The program will work closely with our art trauma therapy program.

Sometimes music can be medicine for the heart and soul. We asked Emily Frazier, LISW-S, clinical director of our children’s residential center, to give us more insight into the nature of music therapy and its ability to reach kids in the midst of their pain.

How did this role come to be included in the residential service array?

Our CRC leadership team is always looking for ways to further develop our program. Most of our residents gravitate to music because they can relate to the lyrics. Additionally, music speaks to the creative/artistic parts of our brain—the right brain. Our kids have experienced trauma which means their right brains are overactive.

Using music (rhythm, instruments, etc.) can help diffuse some of this over activity.

Music therapy is also a great way for our newest residents to get connected and plugged in to our program in a non-threatening, fun way. It can also help with emotional regulation, sensory needs and social skills.

So what exactly is music therapy?

Music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the music therapist provides treatment in the form of creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients’ abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives.

Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.

How does music therapy help youth process trauma?

  • Non-verbal outlets for emotions associated with traumatic experiences

  • Anxiety and stress reduction

  • Positive changes in mood and emotional states

  • Active and positive participant involvement in treatment

  • Increased feelings of control, confidence and empowerment

  • Positive physiological changes, such as lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, and relaxed muscle tension

Music therapy becomes an outlet for expressing emotion. Techniques such as songwriting and lyric analysis, music-based relaxation activities, and combined music and art interventions are regularly used to process past trauma.

Additionally, residents can take lessons or learn to play an instrument. This can help them long term by identifying their ‘sparks’ or things they enjoy or are good at. Many of our kids have never had the opportunity to learn an instrument. By learning to play guitar, piano, drums or another instrument of their choice, they can find a new interest or hobby that they can use long after their time at CCHO is finished.

Adding music therapy is the first step in growing our expressive arts program at CCHO. In time, the hope is to add more music and art therapists and expand services to include outpatient clients as there are few art/music therapy resources in Wayne and surrounding counties. We would love to pair music/art therapy with Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) to help parents/families/youth connect and heal. Would you join us in praying for wisdom for these long-term dreams to help more people experience their worth in Christ?


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