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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 partners with WWP to provide in-person and telehealth music therapy services, and we are also very proud to partner with Music Therapy of the Rockies, a non-profit very near and dear to us that 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.

A COVID-19 UPDATE

UPDATED 9/1/2020:

To our Dear Clients,

It has been 6 months since we have seen each of you in-person, and boy do we feel that! We miss you all tremendously, and cannot wait until we can be together in the same room for music therapy and music lessons.

This is my reason for writing to you today: we feel the tension of both wanting to open back up and resume as much normalcy as possible, while we also know that we do not know enough just yet to do this in a safe manner.

While to you and your family it may only be 30-45 minutes with one of our staff members once a week, which sounds like low exposure, our team collectively works with over 60 families and facilities, which impacts all of our chances of potential exposure dramatically. Simply stated: in order to continue keeping your families safe, we are not ready to resume in-person services just yet.

We are closely following the CDC and WHO guidelines, and we are also keeping a pulse on the happenings around the State of Georgia. Once we feel that we can safely re-open our Studio space and return to visiting our client’s homes and facilities, I promise that you will be the first to know!

In the meantime, we have been thrilled to continue music therapy services via teletherapy and we are so grateful that we have this option. If you have opted not to participate in teletherapy up to this point, but would like to go ahead and get started, please reach out!

Thank you for your patience over the last two months as we have navigated this journey together. We are grateful for each of you!

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Mallory Even, LPMT, MT-BC
Owner & Director of Metro Music Therapy 

 

We are here for you!

Social Distancing is not easy. We are here to help.

WE ARE PROVIDING THE FOLLOWING SERVICES ONLINE FOR CURRENT AND NEW CLIENTS:

Due to social distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we are so grateful to be able to continue our music therapy services online for all of our current clients. Teletherapy services have allowed us to safely provide for our local clients, in addition to clients scattered through the U.S. and the globe!

We are also accepting new clients at this time. Please read more about the benefits of and requirements for teletherapy here.

Healthcare providers, front-line emergency responders, and employees of school systems and educational institutions are feeling a high level of stress during this quickly evolving and ever-changing global pandemic.

Our team provides online individual and group wellness services for organizations, groups, or even families who need to intentionally carve out time to pause, process, and reflect. Learn more about our Wellness services here.

We believe that when it can be, music therapy should be conducted in-person to be able to best meet the needs of each of our clients.

We also know that being face-to-face is not an option right now, and live teletherapy may not be accessible or even appropriate for all of our clients.

If you or your loved one would benefit from curated, individualized pre-recorded musical video content from one of our therapists, which could be accessed at a time that works best for you, we can do this for you.

Please reach out to find out how!

Facility on lockdown? Trying to find and create ways to bring music and joy into the lives of your clients and patients who can’t even leave their rooms? 

We can help. Let’s schedule a time to talk about how to bring appropriate music in safe ways to your clients and patients. We have some great ideas and would love to share them with you! Here’s a list to get you started.

We want to help you during this time, to get through this time,
and to be there for you long after this is all said and done.
Please reach out; you’re not alone!

Your partner in Good Health,

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

Veteran Retreat

In just a few short weeks, in partnership with Music Therapy of the Rockies and Wellspring International, Metro Music Therapy will be co-hosting a Songwriting Retreat for Veterans with PTSD right here in Atlanta. This retreat will be the first of its kind in the Atlanta area, and we are honored to bring this life-changing experience to our local Veterans!

Throughout the retreat weekend, 12 Veterans will partake in group music therapy sessions, group guitar lessons, and will work with a professional songwriter to share their stories and turn them into original song. The weekend concludes with a warm, intimate concert where each Veteran’s song will be performed and heard by their family, friends, and peer Veterans who have experienced the weekend with them.

If you believe in the power of music like we do, and want this retreat to be the start of a new journey for a Veteran diagnosed with PTSD, here are 3 ways you can help today:

  1. REFER A VETERAN: If you know of a Veteran with PTSD in the Atlanta area, and you think this retreat could be just what they need, please have them fill out the Request for Retreat Registration form here. If you are the Veteran with PTSD who could benefit from this experience, please follow the link above to request retreat registration.
  2. REFER A MUSIC THERAPIST: One of the most unique aspects of this Veteran Retreat, which differentiates the event from most other Veteran songwriting experiences, is that the entire retreat is planned and led by a Board-Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) who is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience with other MTs. Because of this, MT-BCs can attend a continuing education training the 2 days prior to the retreat and are also involved in the retreat for the entire weekend to complete their training and education. There are not many opportunities out there like this, and having been through the training and experience myself, I can attest that the Veterans lives are not the only ones changed through this weekend. If you are an MT-BC or know of one who is interested in signing up for this CMTE course, please request the Workshop Registration here.
  3. MAKE A DONATION: This retreat is completely FREE for each Veteran who attends! Retreat attendance includes meals, all group and individual sessions, and a guitar which each Veteran keeps. To make this possible, we need donations of all sizes. You can make a tax-deductible donation here.
photo credit: Marcus Serrano

This Veteran Retreat will be held from November 15-17, 2019, in Alpharetta, GA. For more details about the retreat, or for questions about any of the above, please reach out any time: mallory@metromusictherapyga.com

With love,

2019-10-22T16:53:09+00:00September 11th, 2019|Mental Health, MT in Healthcare, Veterans, Wellness|

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

A Star is Born: A Two-Note Love Story

*SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the film yet, but plan to and don’t want to know the end, then DO NOT READ. But, be sure to come back and read after you have seen it! 

Ok, you’ve been fully warned.

Upon seeing the first preview for this film in the spring, I was all in. The music and acting were promising to be of a caliber that Hollywood had not seen in awhile. I was able to attend an early screening of A Star is Born and was completely ready to dive into this musical and emotional love story.

Or so I thought.

Guys – this movie wrecked me! And I brought my unsuspecting friend straight down into the depths of this emotional pit with me right there in the theater. When the credits rolled, we just sat there in silence, wiping our tears, unwilling and unable to move. Since then, we have talked over and over about the story, the music, the acting, and all of the beautiful nuances that left us and most other viewers completely bereft yet fulfilled all at the same time.

When I watch or experience something for the first time, I am typically watching with a heightened level of anticipation because of the fear of the unknown. After I know that I know what is going to happen, I want to watch again through a new set of eyes and ears; a more relaxed, tuned-in set of eyes and ears that are able to experience things at a deeper level because the anxiety of the unknown has now faded. Yes, I realize this is a hard way to experience real-life events, seeing as they can never fully be replicated, so I have to work very hard to “be in the moment” in these situations. But I digress.

The Greatest Showman? Forget it. Once I knew all turned out okay in the end, I was all-in. I lost count after seeing it in the theater 7 times. But A Star is Born has a different ending than that of The Greatest Showman. The overall feel is heavier; more raw, and much, much darker; and the ending is not neatly packaged with a bow on top. So seeing this movie in the theater again was going to leave me wrecked – again – but since it was nearly impossible to place the story and the music out of my mind and far from my thoughts, I ended up back in the theater. Again.

If you’re reading, you’ve seen the film (or you are purposefully ruining the film for yourself!). The movie was filled with intense relationships, a small look at life on the road for a touring musician, incredible original music, the reality and pain associated with alcohol abuse, substance abuse, and depression, and of course, the love story of Jack (Bradley Cooper) and Ally (Lady Gaga). Ally gets unconventionally courted by Jack as she and a friend are flown on a private jet to attend one of Jack’s concerts. That night following the concert, Jack slips into unconsciousness in a hotel room due to the excessive amount of substances used before, during, and after the show. He wakes in the middle of the night and begins to wake Ally; as this scene plays out, two single notes with no other accompaniment are played in the background as the rest of the world appears it has slipped away. A-A-B-B and then repeats again, A-A-B-B. So simple, and with so little fanfare that I did not pay much attention to this motif the first time I saw the film.

Two-Note Motif (this is a raw recording taken from a piano app – not nearly as beautiful without the sustain pedal!)

But this time it struck me as alluring, and somewhat familiar. I couldn’t put my finger on why. I continued to notice the motif throughout the movie this time, all during significant moments in the story; it was again played when Jack proposed to Ally in the home of their friend in Memphis. And once again, the entire scene melted away as Jack and Ally shared the intimate moment of a marriage proposal with the simple melodic accompaniment joining them in the background.

There are three more times that this motif is played in the film. The first of these three times is when Jack plays the love song he wrote for Ally after he gets home from his long-term inpatient rehabilitation stay. This two-note motif gets embedded into the beginning of the song that he is introducing to her, which we later find to be the foundation and groundwork of the song, “I’ll Never Love Again.”

The fourth time this motif is played, it is by Ally as she is slumped over the piano in the home that she and Jack shared. She begins playing this motif, but this time with a minor key accompaniment. This is the morning after Jack completed suicide; the minor undertones giving us a tiny glimpse into the enormity of the utter despair and pain she must be feeling.

The last time the motif is played is during the last song of the film, when Ally takes the stage at a memorial service for Jack, and performs the song that they shared together, “I’ll Never Love Again.” Besides hearing the sobbing in the theater, you can hear the A-A-B-B  A-A-B-B in the melody of the beginning of the song, and the motif continues to be woven throughout.

I left the theater after the second time viewing the film and realized that the beauty in this two-note motif could be, and probably is, very easily missed by audiences, especially during the first (and possibly only?) viewing. After all, this motif is not at all conspicuous or ornate. It probably sounds silly – there is an entire album of incredibly rich, textured music that has been the byproduct of this film (or may the film was the byproduct of the music?), and here I am focusing in on two notes – but they haunted me throughout the film and continued to even after leaving the theater.

The more I thought about these two notes, the more the motif took shape and began to apply meaning to itself right in front of me. Jack was a tortured soul; one who was complicated, with an injured past, who hurt deeply but loved on an even deeper level. Everything about him was a far cry from simple. But his love for Ally was the one facet of his life that he was able to make sense of. Yes, he hurt her – and badly, at times – but it was very apparent that, from the moment he saw her for who she truly was, his love for her was pure, and some may argue that this love was the one part of his life that remained un-tortured.

This two-note motif was Jack’s love song for Ally, told exclusively through Jack’s eyes — until the end, when this motif blossoms into Ally’s love song for Jack. It starts simple; no accompaniment and no lyrics, but was present during the most significant times of their relationship. And when Jack was gone and Ally didn’t have words, she sat at the piano and played her sadness, grief, and deep love that she felt for Jack through this motif with rich emotion and gravity. And then at the end of the film when Ally takes the stage – oh how the tears are streaming now – she echoes the love that Jack showed to her, that he curated for her by writing this song, and she performs the song in its’ entirety. This is Ally’s brave and heartfelt attempt to do their love story some semblance of justice while her heart is shattered in a million pieces on the floor.

In the aftermath of Jack’s death, his brother, Bobby, reminds Ally of Jack’s theory on music… “Jack talked about how music is essentially 12 notes between any octave. Twelve notes, and the octave repeats. It’s the same story, told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes. He loved how you see them.”

Everyone has a story; and this musician believes that if you have a story, you have a song.
How would yours sound?
Who would be your co-writer?
What might you be able to say through 12 notes that you couldn’t say with words?

Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen

 

 

2018-11-02T13:56:49+00:00November 2nd, 2018|Bereavement, Blog, Grief & Loss, Mental Health|

Summer Camp Recap!

***Photos used with Permission***

Now that school is back in full swing, many a young mind is likely pining for the days of summer past (as in, like, four weeks ago.) Here at Metro Music Therapy, we have a lot of exciting new adventures ahead – new clients, new contracts, and even our very own Music Therapy room in a private school! *Stay tuned for future blog posts.*

But for now, let’s take a moment to reflect on MMT’s music-filled summer camp experiences:

Camp Cadi
At the beginning of summer, MMT participated for the third year with Camp Cadi – a week-long camp for girls that have suffered from childhood sexual abuse trauma. Our own Camila Casaw served as the Music Therapist for the duration of the camp, staying with the girls on site and providing Music Therapy sessions. For seven days, Camila worked with the girls to provide validation, a safe space for self-expression and empowerment through the power of music and therapy! It was a privilege to be able to collaborate with Camp Cadi again and we are grateful to make some music with these brave girls!


Pictured is a portion of Camila’s musical “toolbox,” and an artistic expression created by the campers.

Stone Soup Camp
We were also excited to participate for the fifth year with Stone Soup Camp, a summer camp for kids and adolescents with autism and other special learning needs. Stone Soup held two sessions this summer, one week in June and another week in July, with the super fun themes of – wait for it – Dinosaurs and the Renaissance! Everybody loves dinosaur songs and court jesters playing recorder! While the students engaged in all kinds of amazing activities at Stone Soup, each camp also included one Music Therapy session with Kevin Middlebrooks for each age group. The students practiced their motor skills, sustained attention, auditory discrimination, teamwork, vocalization, and self-expression – all through singing, dancing, drumming, and, yes, even musical jousting! Kevin had a blast with the students. It was an honor to walk the dinosaur and fight dragons with these amazing kids.


Left: M. shows some quick response time during musical jousting to hit the target (bell) that matches the dragon. Right: Everyone uses their “dinosaur bones” to play some not-so-fossilized rhythms.


We’re grateful for our summertime experiences, and for our relationships with these two wonderful summer camps. They’re offering such valuable experiences for their campers, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have been able to add the benefits of Music Therapy to the mix.

And now school is back in session. Time to learn new things, make new friends, and create more music!

2018-08-24T21:00:54+00:00August 24th, 2018|Blog, Holidays, Mental Health, Music Therapy, Pediatric|

Thank you, Dr. Sacks

Written by Kally Ramminger, LPMT, MT-BC

I’ve watched the music therapy community mourn the death of Dr. Oliver Sacks over the past week. His legacy will live on forever, as he has helped so many people throughout the years understand the power that music has on one’s brain. Equally important, he also taught us the importance of preserving the humanity of every human being, regardless of their situation or diagnosis.

I’ve pulled together some of the most poignant words from Dr. Sacks (in my opinion), that have helped guide my understanding and role as a music therapist. Thank you, Dr. Oliver Sacks for your incredibly valuable contribution to this world.

You remind us that music is vital, essential to life.

Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

You remind us to look beyond the diagnosis of an individual.

In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.”

You remind us that our brain is fascinating organ and a never-ending exploration of knowledge.

It really is a very odd business that all of us, to varying degrees, have music in our heads.”

You remind us the power of death and the privilege we have as music therapists to be a part of the dying process.

When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

You remind us that no two people, diagnoses, or experiences are ever the same.

Individuality is deeply imbued in us from the very start, at the neuronal level. Even at a motor level, researchers have shown, an infant does not follow a set pattern of learning to walk or how to reach for something. Each baby experiments with different ways of reaching for objects and over the course of several months discovers or selects his own motor solutions. When we try to envisage the neural basis of such individual learning, we might imagine a “population” of movements (and their neural correlates) being strengthened or pruned away by experience.

Similar considerations arise with regard to recover and rehabilitation after strokes and other injuries. There are no rules; there is no prescribed path of recovery; every patient must discover or create his own motor and perceptual patterns, his own solutions to the challenges that face him; and it is the function of a sensitive therapist to help him in this.

And in its broadest sense, neural Darwinism implies that we are destined, whether we wish it or not, to a life of particularity and self-development, to make our own individual paths through life.”

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{All of the above quotes were direct words from Dr. Oliver Sacks.}

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