World Music Therapy Day

On days like today and in times such as this, it can be hard to understand how music really can help and heal.

Today is World Music Therapy Day, and we encourage you to think about how music has positively impacted your life …

How did you learn your alphabet?

What brings a nation together at the start of a sporting event?

What drives home the emotion of the story and can even foreshadow what is coming next in your favorite movie?

What has the power to bring back memories from ones’ wedding day?

What medium is used as an artistic, creative, and emotional outlet when war has raged in our country or in others, and when people feel helpless against forces much larger than themselves?

Music, in and of itself, powerfully effects and drives our emotions, feelings, thoughts, memories, and physical state. When a trained music therapist who has learned when and how to introduce music into the therapeutic setting meets a client who is at the threshold of their desire to seek change within their own life, the results can be astounding.

Music Therapy has an important place in society and should continue to be utilized while our collective mental and emotional health is on the fringe from prolonged effects of the pandemic and heightened international conflict.

Here at Metro Music Therapy, we believe in the efficacy of the work that we do, and we believe in our clients with whom we are working. Our team is proud to be Board-Certified Music Therapists, and we will continue to leverage the transformative power of music to bring healing during life’s most trying seasons.

Stay well, and keep making music!

Calm in Chaos

Now more than ever, we are all feeling the effects of stress in our everyday lives. Not only can stress negatively affect our well-being on a day-to-day basis, but it can also lead to long-term physical and mental health challenges. If you’re experiencing things like brain fog, tiredness, and lack of motivation, you’re not alone. The ongoing experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge we are all facing together! If you’re looking for ways to cultivate calm and clarity during this tumultuous time, here are some tips that may help.

  1. Introduce Novelty – Have you ever seen a frightening or disheartening news story and wanted to disengage from it, but found it next to impossible to stop watching or reading? This is because our brains naturally crave novelty! When something is new and different, our attention is immediately pulled to it. This mechanism helps protect us by keeping us alert to potential dangers, but it can also lead to increased stress. In regards to COVID, we may find it difficult to disengage from the news or social media. Trying to simply turn off the news or close the tab often proves ineffective, not because we lack willpower, but because it goes against how our brains are wired to behave. One way to help mitigate this effect is to introduce another form of novelty to shift our attention away. Watching a funny video or listening to interesting music can help replace the new, exciting sensory input our brains crave while helping to relieve stress and improve our mood.
  2. Get Oxygen Flowing – Things like gentle movement and deep breathing might seem small, but they can be remarkably helpful when we feel burned out and overwhelmed. Moving our bodies and taking deep breaths both provide fresh oxygen to our brains, which helps us think more clearly, solve problems more easily, and manage our emotions. Try taking a couple of minutes to walk around, gently stretch, or just take a few slow, deep breaths. Some people may find it helpful to set a few reminders over the course of a busy day.
  3. Try a small, Achievable Task – When we’re feeling stressed, burnt out, and overwhelmed, even small tasks may feel insurmountable. One way to help with this can be setting a small, easily achievable task that creates a feeling of productivity and energy when completed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a backlog of emails, try answering one that only needs a short, easy response. If you need to clean your kitchen, try just wiping down the countertops. You can even write the task down on paper or in your phone, then check it off when it’s completed. It might feel a bit silly, but it can help break the anxiety cycle and propel the day forward.
  4. Give yourself permission to Feel Your Feelings – While we may use these techniques and many others to reduce or prevent “negative” emotions, it is just as necessary to allow ourselves to feel them fully when the time is right. Try to give yourself permission to express strong emotions rather than repress them – cry, vent to a friend, or sing along to music that matches how you feel. We all deserve the space and time to express our feelings, whatever they may be.

We hope you find these tips helpful! While we can’t completely avoid stress and worry, small steps like these can help us lead healthier and happier lives. Our team wishes you a safe, fun, and joyful 2022!

Happy New Year!

We want to take a moment during this busy week back to work and wish you a Happy New Year! We truly hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and feel excited and inspired to begin another year. But … maybe you don’t feel excited or inspired. Maybe you feel anxious, stressed, burned out, or depressed.

If you feel that you are stuck and need help moving forward or moving on from something, our team is here for those very reasons. Please reach out any time to find out if Music Therapy is exactly what you or your loved one has been needing.

If you want to see what we were up to in December, meet our new intern, or watch Bailey’s Bell Choir performance, you can find all of that in our latest Newsletter here.

 

Helpful or Harmful?

When our team presents to a room of healthcare professionals, one of our biggest points that we drive home is the simple fact that, if we believe music holds the power to help us, then we must acknowledge that it also holds the power to harm us, if and when it is used incorrectly.

Think about it for a minute – if music can positively influence our heart rate, breathing patterns, feelings, and emotions, then music can also negatively influence our heart rate, breathing patterns, feelings and emotions!

Even though introducing music as a treatment option in the healthcare setting is much less invasive or costly than introducing a drug/medicine, scalpel, or some sort of painful physical exertion, if any element of the music is introduced in an inappropriate way for the moment or environment, then it can cause stress, anxiety, aggravation, and can open the floodgates of emotions. Opening the floodgates can be a great thing – but it is important to do so in a safe, therapeutic setting, which is what Music Therapists do best.

How can music be inappropriate to the moment or environment? A few simple answers include: timing, tempo, volume, instrument selection, genre of music, song selection, history of song, pitch and key of song, placement of sound source, and the overall timbre of the music being played. If some of these elements don’t sound simple, but instead very complicated to you, don’t worry! Music therapists are equal parts trained musician and trained therapist — because the MUSIC and the THERAPY are equally important!

We often hear statements like, “Oh we have music therapy in our facility — we have a harpist who plays in the foyer!” And while we truly love that patients have access to music that they may enjoy, we always want to gently remind our audience that music therapy is a clinical treatment option which is provided by a trained and board-certified Music Therapist (“MT-BC”). So while the harpist may be the best at their craft, if they are not an MT-BC, then the music they are providing is not music therapy. And what if a patient is being subjected to music that they don’t like? What if harp music causes agitation, anxiety, or even triggers an emotion or memory that a patient who is isolated in their room needs assistance processing? When not carefully curated and presented, simply stated, music can be harmful.

If you have questions about how to safely incorporate music into your healthcare setting, we can help! Please consult and hire a Music Therapist; and while we would love for it to be us, we understand if you go elsewhere — just make sure they are a Board-Certified Music Therapist who is credentialed by the Certification Board for Music Therapists — and in states like Georgia, be sure they also have their state license to practice!

All MT-BCs should have the below badge readily available to show to you, and should also have a 5-digit certification number. You can also look up certification status of any music therapist here.

Veterans Day 2021

Here at Metro Music Therapy, we truly believe that our Veterans should be honored every day!

We are proud to tell you more about our newest partnership with Emory Healthcare.

Emory Healthcare Veterans Program

It has been our honor to recently come alongside the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program (EHVP) to provide music therapy services to the veterans and service members in their care. EHVP is a part of the Wounded Warrior Project’s Warrior Care Network, a nationwide program which recognizes the stress of military service and the challenges of returning to civilian life. Post-9/11 veterans and service members struggling with invisible wounds such as PTSD, TBI, MST, Anxiety or Depression, may benefit from this free and confidential Intensive Outpatient Program.

During our sessions at the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, veterans collaborate with each other to relax, express themselves, share coping skills, and build confidence and self-esteem. Each veteran brings a unique perspective and experience, and it is my honor to facilitate these groups.
– Hayley Oliver, LPMT, MT-BC

We hope you enjoy the special edition of the MMT Newsletter, wherein we highlight our work specific to Veterans. You can read the entire newsletter here.

The Impact of Songwriting for Veterans

Metro Music Therapy has the privilege of working with numerous impactful organizations who strive to make a difference in the lives of others. One organization that MMT has a long standing relationship with is Music Therapy of the Rockies located in Colorado. Music Therapy of the Rockies mission is to provide quality services and life-changing opportunities for veterans across the country. As part of this initiative, Music Therapy of the Rockies began songwriting retreats for veterans who suffer from PTSD and other service-related injuries. The retreats originated in Nashville, TN on Amy Grant’s farm where they remain each year. 

Mallory Even, Owner and Founder of MMT, and Laura Lenz, Assistant Director, have been fortunate enough to attend multiple veteran songwriting retreats in both Nashville and Atlanta. Each retreat is a two and a half day experience consisting of music therapy groups and songwriting sessions with a professional songwriter telling the veteran’s original story. Mallory Even shared that “veterans learn to play guitar and receive a guitar to keep” once the retreat finishes. “The entire weekend ends with a concert in which each veteran’s song is showcased” says Even. 

So, how does music therapy play a direct role in each songwriting retreat? “Music therapy is integral to the entire weekend and to the schedule and set up of the retreats” shared Even. Laura Lenz shared that “Board-certified music therapists are trained to recognize and support the veterans’ experiences in such a way that their safety and well-being is always at the forefront.” Music therapists apply their training in recognizing and understanding the neurological aspects of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and Traumatic Brain Injuries to structure the musical experience for the benefit of the veteran. Application of counseling skills and facilitating the veteran’s experience in a comfortable, safe environment ensures a successful songwriting session.  

When asked why this experience is so beneficial to veterans, Mallory stated that “when veterans share their story through song, they own a piece of it that they may never have been able to before, and tell it in a way that is their choice.” Those involved in the weekend activities offer a safe, non-judgmental environment to offer the ability to share some of their darkest and hardest stories to tell. “This process can be very healing not only in the moment, but long-term” says Even. When looking at the long-term benefits, there have been countless accounts from attendees of praise and gratitude for the veterans songwriting retreats. “Music Therapy of the Rockies is engaging in research to take brain images before a retreat and then the same images of the same veteran six months after a retreat…their preliminary results are showing increased blood flow in the brain and Music Therapy of the Rockies truly believes this is the physiological benefit of the retreat experience” Mallory shared. In addition, Laura mentioned that she has spoken to many of the veterans post-retreat and there is a “universal expression of appreciation for the tools they are taught during these retreats such as using their guitars to help them through stressful times and utilizing the techniques of music and relaxation throughout their day.” 

Freely sharing and letting the music write difficult stories is a beautiful, heartfelt process to watch for all involved. It’s hard to pinpoint one specific highlight of each retreat, but Mallory states that “it’s the people, hands down! The music therapists, the veterans, and the songwriters.” While Laura agrees, she adds that “it is one of the highest honors of my life to be allowed the opportunity to be a tiny part of being in the presence of these remarkable people whose stories are told in such a glorious way through the songwriters’ talent and compassion along with the music therapists who are so dedicated to the entirety of the people and process.” 

We are forever grateful to work alongside Music Therapy of the Rockies and be a part of their amazing work for our veterans. Metro is also fortunate to host our own retreats in the Atlanta area which are graciously funded, planned, and led by Music Therapy of the Rockies. We, at Metro Music Therapy, continue to live by our mission statement of, “We Can Help.” Our team members are dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of those who sacrificed so much. We try to accurately express our thoughts and emotions upon attending veteran songwriting retreats, but as Laura beautifully said, “words truly don’t capture the experience.”

 

Songs of Hope Funding Update

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Wellspring International, the sole funding source for our Songs of Hope program, has been closed by their parent organization. With this news comes the harsh reality that we have to suspend the music therapy services provided through our Songs of Hope program beginning October 1, 2021.

While we grieve the closing of this chapter, please know that our team remains committed and dedicated to the calling which we have and will always follow: to leverage the transformative power of music to bring healing during life’s most trying seasons, and to do so with professionalism, excellence, warmth and compassion.

Who does this Impact?
For the last six years, Songs of Hope has provided music therapy services to:

  • Refugees who have resettled in the Atlanta area
  • Children experiencing Grief & Loss
  • Elderly shut-ins
  • Veterans with PTSD
  • Hospice & Palliative Care patients

Do you want to see these services continue?
If you or someone you know would like to financially contribute to the continuation of the Songs of Hope program, please contact us to find out how to give a tax-deductible donation to one of our partner organizations who will ensure your donation goes to Songs of Hope, or ask us about our ability to receive scholarship donations directly through Zelle (these are not tax-deductible as Metro Music Therapy is not a 501c3).

Thank you for your belief in our work, and for your continued support of Metro Music Therapy and the Songs of Hope program.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

With the recent news of the events in Afghanistan, we know that Veterans are hurting, feeling overwhelmed, and may be triggered by what they see and hear on the news and social media. Our team was honored to provide an online Music & Wellness session for Veterans this week.

The Metro Music Therapy team spoke for a few minutes, sharing ways to decompress, de-stress, and to set oneself and their loved ones up for success when life feels out of control.

After the speaking portion, one of our team members led the participants in a live music and relaxation exercise, wherein each attendee participated in the way that they felt most comfortable.

We hope you enjoy a glimpse into our Music & Wellness Session for Veterans, which took place on August 24th. Thank you to all who attended (both those pictured and not pictured)!

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival 

Online Wellness Session for Veterans

Veterans are Hurting.

With the recent news of the events in Afghanistan, we know that Veterans are hurting, feeling overwhelmed, and may be triggered by what they see and hear on the news and social media. Our team is inviting Veterans to join us online on Tuesday, August 24th @ 8:00pm for a free Music & Wellness session.

The Metro Music Therapy team will be speaking for a few minutes, sharing ways to decompress, de-stress, and to set yourself and your loved ones up for success when life feels out of control.

After the speaking portion, one of our team members will lead the participants in a live music and relaxation exercise, wherein each attendee can participate in the way that they feel most comfortable.

Veterans of all ages are welcome to attend – please share this information within your personal and professional circles!

Registration is FREE and must be completed to gain access to the Zoom call — Registration closes at 1pm eastern on August 24th!

REGISTER NOW

Highlight on Veteran’s Services

Music therapists have the privilege of working with a wide variety of populations, one of which being military personnel. Our profession is grounded in our service to our American soldiers and veterans. Music therapy began post-WWI when musicians were requested to provide music for thousands of veterans who had suffered emotional and physical traumas. Soon after, music therapy  evolved and has grown into the  profession we know and love today. 

Metro Music Therapy is honored to have worked with countless veterans over the years through the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and other organizations dedicated to the health and wellbeing of our service members. One of Metro’s own, Hayley Oliver, currently provides music therapy services to a handful of veterans through an outpatient PTSD program and WWP clients. She began her work with this population during her internship and has had the privilege of working alongside other music therapy professionals, songwriters, and veterans at 3 songwriting retreats in Nashville, TN as a board-certified music therapist. 

Music therapy services are effective in group or one-on-one settings. Hayley states that “both can be excellent tools for veterans, and each format has its own strengths.” Through individual work, music therapists are able to tailor every detail of the experience to the specific veteran’s needs and preferences. “Sessions can progress at the veteran’s pace, and an intimate, therapeutic relationship can be formed” says Hayley. On the other hand, group work allows veterans to collaborate and bond not only with the music therapist, but also with the other participants. This, in turn, offers opportunities to socially engage with peers in fun, recreational activities, as well as foster a supportive and safe environment for moments of vulnerability and deep interpersonal connection. 

A variety of music therapy interventions can be used to attain specific, time-bound goals set for the individual or group. Interventions such as lyric analysis and songwriting address mental health needs by providing opportunities for healthy trauma processing. Hayley adds that “these interventions provide a structure for self-expression, allowing veterans to explore memories and emotions in a safe, supported environment.” Other interventions include instrument playing, singing, or learning an instrument to help with coping skills, physical, and neurological goals while aiming to decrease anxiety, depression, intense anger, and suicidal ideation. Hayley states that when working with a veteran with a traumatic brain injury, “music interventions are designed to strengthen relevant regions of the brain specific to the veteran’s needs, abilities, and interests.”

So, why and how is music therapy for veterans beneficial? Music therapy uses music, a unique and powerful tool, to play a role in all forms of wellness for the client. “An ever growing body of research shows us just how integral music is to every aspect of our lives, from our social and spiritual practices to the rhythms of our heart and breath.” New neural pathways are able to be formed simply by listening to music. Hayley goes on to say that “research into the psychology of music shows us the invaluable role music plays in emotional wellbeing, both individually and collectively.” 

When asked what her favorite part about working with veterans is, Hayley stated that it involves “watching them rediscover their sense of identity and personal power.” Veterans can often feel a loss of control and disconnect from themselves, but with music therapy they are able to feel capable and empowered in all aspects of their lives. Hayley says that she is “honored to be a part of their journeys.” 

If you would like to begin veterans services for yourself or a loved one, please visit our contact tab on the website or fill out our Client Intake Form on the New Clients tab. 

Thank you veterans for your service. We would be happy to serve you.

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