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.

Metro Serves All

The end of summer is quickly approaching! As enjoyable as this summer was, it’s time to start planning ahead for the fall and back-to-school months. The services Metro Music Therapy offers could be the perfect addition to you or your family’s schedule!

At Metro, we provide one-on-one and group services spanning multiple domains and diagnoses. Our team’s experience as board-certified music therapists allows us to cater to all client’s needs by tailoring each session to meet their desired goals and objectives. Our team serves the following populations…Developmental Delay, Autism, At-Risk Youth, Grief & Loss, Mental Health, Veterans, Refugees, and Hospice & Palliative Care. Visit our homepage, and click each box to read, in detail, exactly how we approach and carefully consider the needs of each client. 

If you think Metro would fit well into your weekly routine, give us a call or reach out via email! We would love to serve you in the near future. The end of summer is a perfect time to bring enhancement into your life! We look forward to hearing from you!

A Pandemic of Grief

One year ago the Covid-19 pandemic startled the world. With over 30 million cases recorded to date, the pandemic has caused a drastic shift in our everyday living. Will life ever be “normal” again? While that question still remains, one thing is known; grief has impacted all of our lives in some way.

Grief is defined as “the natural response to losing someone or something that is important to you.” Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, grief also has physical, behavioral, cognitive, cultural, social, spiritual and philosophical dimensions as well. Losses such as a loved one, financial and job related losses, the feeling of normalcy, social and familial interaction, and certain freedoms we may have taken for granted have caused grief to be present in our current lives. Anxiety, depression, sadness, loneliness, and hopelessness are all common symptoms that can accompany grief.

While this is still a difficult time for many, Metro Music Therapy is here to provide ongoing support and comfort. Our experienced staff understand the difficulty and uniqueness of each circumstance faced by our clients. Metro recognizes that grief has no timeline and that your feelings and thoughts are valid. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know are interested in our grief and loss services, please visit the contact tab on our website to fill out our client intake form. You can also call us at 404.510.3799 if you have any further questions.

 

MMT is Expanding!

Metro Music Therapy has served the metro Atlanta area for almost 14 years … and we are thrilled to announce that we are now also serving the state of North Carolina! We will be providing in-person and telehealth services for clients and facilities in the Triangle and Triad areas.

If you are interested in partnering with us to bring music therapy to your loved one or to the clients of your facility, please reach out and let us know!

We can’t wait to begin serving you, North Carolina!

Lunch & Learn: Is Telehealth Effective?

 

We have been providing Telehealth Music Therapy Services for ONE YEAR NOW!

We have learned so much, and want to share our knowledge of the Efficacy of Telehealth with our facility partners, and other healthcare and education professionals.

Join us online next Friday, March 26th, for our Lunch & Learn, “Is Telehealth Effective?” and find out how we are adapting our services to continue meeting the needs of our clients and making progress toward their therapeutic goals!

Bring your lunch & hop online to join us!
Registration is FREE and required – details below:
When: Friday, March 26th
Time: 12:00 – 1:00pm EST
Access the Call hereZoom
Meeting ID: 924 0584 5164
Passcode: 511880

Why Music?

One of the strengths that music holds is that it can encourage, uplift and support. It can and does at times remind us of better days ahead and that we have the internal strength to get to those better days.

But I also believe that, unlike most other things in this world, music has the power to meet us where we are in the dark and deeply sorrowful places. It validates our feelings and acknowledges them without the push to also remind us of the good ahead. Music can just sit with us, free of judgement and opinion, and instead of saying, “this too shall pass,” say, “this hurts so much.”

The power and science behind music therapy comes from knowing what we need from music and when.

We are with you, and we are for you. Let us know how we can help you.

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