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Happy Holidays!

Here we are: at the end of 2020!

As I think over this past year, I feel overwhelmed by the collective loss of normalcy that we have all experienced.

Simultaneously, I feel overwhelmingly grateful for our clients, patients, business partners, and colleagues, for sticking by us through these very hard, yet very meaningful times.

Now more than ever, we want to express our gratitude for you, your families, your passion for the services we offer, and for your faithfulness to our company.

We wish you nothing less than joy, happiness, and togetherness with the ones you love this season and in the new year.

Stay well, stay healthy, and please let us know how we can continue to support you.

With sincere gratitude and love,

Singing Grams are Back!

We delivered a lot of smiles and quite a few happy tears through our very own MMT Singing Grams this spring … and what better way to wrap up this unprecedented year of 2020 by doing it all again, but this time with a little Holiday flair!

Singing Grams can be booked for most dates in December – grab your spot early as we know we will fill up soon!

BOOK NOW!

Wellness Services

We all need ways to de-stress – especially in 2020.

Our team has you covered! We provide Wellness Music Therapy services in-person and online, and we are ready to support you and your staff.

RESULTS:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Team-building
  • Improved coping skills
  • Improved motivation

Reach out and let us know how we can support your team of essential workers!

Songs of Hope

Today marks the 1st day of our 6th year in partnership with Wellspring International!
Over the last 5 years, Songs of Hope, our grant-funded music therapy program, provided 1,609 individual and group music therapy sessions for hospice patients, children experiencing grief and loss, and Refugees who have resettled in Atlanta — and since March of 2020, we’ve also served clients throughout the US and the globe through telehealth services.
We are continuously grateful for Wellspring International, and for their willingness and excitement to walk alongside us so faithfully, and for trusting us to work well in their name!
With sincerest gratitude,

Military Suicide Up 20%

Six-months into this “new norm,” and everything still feels very strange and heavy.

On the way to my office this morning, I heard these statistics on the radio, and I had to take a minute to wrap my head around these numbers that were screaming out to me over the car stereo:

Military suicides have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019 …

And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30% jump in active duty suicides so far this year — told The Associated Press that they are looking at shortening combat deployments … *

Last year, the suicide rates, 20% lower than now, were still too high and unacceptable. It is overwhelming to think of each and every one of the lives that have been tragically changed because of these statistics.

I do not have all of the answers, and these situations can be so complicated; but I do know that music therapy services can help our active-duty military members and veterans. Not only does our field have the research to show this, but we have firsthand anecdotal evidence that music therapy can improve overall well-being and the outlook for the sometimes long road ahead.

Our team provides in-person and telehealth music therapy services for Veterans and active duty military personnel, and we are also very proud to partner with Music Therapy of the Rockies, a non-profit very near and dear to us who provides Songwriting Retreats for Veterans with PTSD.

If you or a loved-one is struggling due to military-related trauma, please know that we can help — no matter where you are. Our team now provides telehealth services to clients all over the globe, and we would be honored to walk alongside you during this crucial time.

With you in the hard times and the good,

 

 

 

 

*Read the full article from WSB News & Talk here.

Be the One …

Our founder, Mallory, recently shared this story about her father:

“Music was the way in which my father experienced, interacted with, and related to the world around him. It was common practice for him to ask us to sit down and listen to a song with him; his timing was always terrible, actually, so if we ignored his request, which we often did, he’d just turn the song on so loudly that you had no choice but to hear it throughout the house.

One of the many, many things he taught me, and that I will always carry with me, is that if someone asks you to listen to a song because it’s meaningful to them, be the one who will.”

And this is our promise to you: we will listen to you, with you, and for you.

Memorial Day 2020

Memorial Day is a day to remember and mourn the military personnel who have given their lives so that we may continue to live in freedom with our families and friends.

Here at Metro Music Therapy, we take today to remember, celebrate, and appreciate all who have given their lives so that we may continue to live.

We have known many of you, and have never met most of you; but today, we celebrate all of you.

Thank you — and may we honor your lives by never taking for granted the immeasurable gift you have given to us all, and by continuing to uphold and sustain each other through the good times and most especially through the hard times.

With our deepest gratitude,
The Metro Music Therapy Team

How Great Thou Art

Over the past few weeks, our team has been hard at work behind the scenes creating a virtual choir/orchestra as a gift for Ravi Zacharias from his daughter, Naomi Zacharias, who is the Director of Wellspring International.

MMT and Wellspring have partnered together over the last five years to provide music therapy services through our Songs of Hope program to hospice patients, bereaved children, and refugees who have resettled in the Atlanta area.

When Naomi approached our team with the request of creating this gift for her father, who has been undergoing cancer treatment over the last few months, we were humbled to have been asked.

Everyone at Wellspring International and RZIM have become near and dear to us over the years, and we wholeheartedly respect and admire the work they do around the globe.

While Naomi and her family navigate this difficult journey, we are honored to provide comfort in the way that we know best: through music.

You can watch the MMT virtual choir, beginning with a heartfelt message from Naomi, here.

To the Zacharias family: our thoughts, hearts, and love are with you all. #ThankYouRavi

With sincere gratitude and love,

 

Music Therapy Advocacy!

Happy Music Therapy Advocacy Month!

As a music therapy intern who just completed my internship at Metro Music Therapy, I have had the opportunity to experience the multitude of ways that music therapy can positively transform patients’ lives. Academic classes in college certainly hammered in AMTA’s definition of music therapy such that I could recite it in my sleep: “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” Practicum sites in college gave me glimpses of how that definition applied to direct patient care. However, completing internship and learning to implement such music interventions with a more diverse variety of populations than I could have ever imagined has given me new insight into the importance of music therapy advocacy.

Music therapy groups can create a safe space with a sense of belonging for youth in the foster care system who have rarely known what belonging felt like before. They can create a welcoming community for refugee children who are navigating an entirely new country. Music therapy can provide comfort and relief from agitation for hospice patients who are nearing the end of their lives. It can increase quality of life for residents in nursing homes, assisted living, and memory care units. Music therapy can provide a unique outlet for emotional expression and processing for veterans who are suffering from symptoms of PTSD. It can help mitigate symptoms of mental illness for individuals in a behavioral health facility. Music therapy can do all of this and so much more.

Atlanta Veteran Songwriting Retreat – November 2019

With increasing advocacy efforts for music therapy, music therapists can continue to work with the populations most commonly served, expand services for those populations less commonly served, and design new programs to reach populations that have not yet had the opportunity to reap the benefits of high-quality music therapy care. As I have seen during my time at Metro Music Therapy, with a positive attitude that anything is possible, music therapy can continue to transform clients’ and patients’ lives for the better.

– Written by Haley Smith

What If Christmas Makes Me Cry?

*In accordance with HIPAA, and out of respect for our client’s privacy, the name “Ruth” will be used as an alias in this blog post.*

Happy Holidays!
Merry Christmas!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! …right?
Or, at least… it’s supposed to be?

For a great many people – maybe yourself included – this season truly is a time of good cheer, fond memories, gatherings of family and friends, bright spirits, colorful decorations, and cherished traditions. It’s a time to be grateful, to be kind and compassionate.
And I sincerely hope that the holidays bring all of this and more to you and yours!

But acknowledging, and even experiencing, all of these warm emotions and happy thoughts typically associated with the holidays certainly does not negate or invalidate those painful feelings that may also be stirred up at this time of year.
Joy may be followed by sadness. Laughter may be preceded by tears.
Maybe the gift you’re really hoping for this season is just a little bit of relief from the seemingly constant fatigue, stress, irritability, anxiety, depression, etc. Stressors like lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, pressures (whether perceived or stated) of gift-giving, and loneliness can feel all the more amplified when the rest of the world seems to be telling you to celebrate. Family gatherings can bring up difficult and painful memories, whether of childhood trauma or the loss of a loved one.

As Music Therapists, colleagues, friends, brothers, sisters, parents, neighbors – it’s important to remember that any number of painful circumstances, situations, or seemingly conflicting emotions could be the reality of the person sitting next to us this holiday season.
Our clients, our friends, our family could very well be hurting, and that pain might even be brought to surface by the very season that’s intended to bring joy, peace, and good will.

Take the phrase, “Happy Holidays!” for example.
Do you ever feel a sense of pressure when you hear that?
What if I’m not happy at all? Am I doing this wrong? Shouldn’t I be happy right now?
What’s intended as a simple expression of well-wishes can start to feel like a command.
“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. Do it.”

Kacey Musgraves says it well in her song “Christmas Makes Me Cry.”
Let’s pause and take a listen.


So how do we respond when Christmas makes us cry?

One good rule of thumb is validation. 
It’s okay not to be okay.
It’s alright if Christmas makes you want to curl up in a ball.
And if the last thing you want to hear right now is another chestnut roasting, sugar-plum dreaming, mistletoe waiting, bell jingling, sleighing song, then so be it!

A client – let’s call her Ruth – recently said to me, “I’m dealing with a lot of holiday depression right now. Is it okay if we don’t do Christmas music? I’d rather just keep singing country songs with you, if that’s alright. That actually helps me feel better.”

Can’t you almost hear that sense of pressure?
Ruth was asking *me* if *I* would be okay with not doing Christmas songs –
and of course that’s okay, because the session is for her.
But, since it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” Christmas songs are just expected. And maybe they don’t need to be. 
Especially if they’re a detriment to a person’s mental health.

If Alan Jackson’s “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” does more good for your soul than “Silent Night” right now, then that is okay. Really. And if you change your mind later and feel like singing “Joy to the World,” that’s okay too!

Ruth, in fact, did ask for Christmas songs the following week (“The upbeat ones, though, not the sentimental ones.”) We sang “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” and had a good laugh!

All of this to say, whatever you’re experiencing this holiday season, it’s worth respecting and acknowledging.
If you want to laugh, do it heartily. If you need to cry, then go right ahead.

It may not be a bright, shiny, sing-songy, happy good time, and that’s alright. (Though I hope it is!)
To paraphrase [or, y’know, just rewrite] the song “White Christmas:”

May your days be whatever they need to be right now,
And may all your Christmases be white.

If you’ll allow me to finish with a simple expression of goodwill – for real, though, no pressure –
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


– Written by Kevin Middlebrooks, LPMT, MT-BC


Resources:
What We Know About the Holiday Blues
The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, 2017
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-living/201712/what-we-know-about-the-holiday-blues

Photo: xenia_gromak / Photocase

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