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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.

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

MMT Singing-gram

We all want to be together again, doing the things we love.
We want to laugh together and celebrate birthdays and weddings,
cry together and grieve the normalcy we’ve lost,
and we long to hug each other through all of it.

Our team feels this with you and we want to help you
stay connected to those you love during this time.

Be TOGETHER while social distancing.

Here’s how:

  1. Choose a date and time from our Singing-gram calendar
  2. Enter your contact information and the contact information of your loved one who will be receiving the live Singing-gram
  3. We will email the recipient (and cc you) with the link for the Singing-gram and the date and time to login (the song you choose will remain a surprise until the delivery of the Singing-gram!)
  4. The best part? You will be on the call, too, so that you can see your loved ones’ reaction! You can also send the link to other friends and family members if this is a gift from multiple people/families!

Help Spread the Word: When you post images and videos of the live Singing-gram on social media, use #MMTSinginggram and @MetroMusicTherapy to help us spread the word! You can also ask the recipient to keep the love going by nominating another recipient!

Once the Singing-gram has been delivered, and we have made you and your loved one(s) smile, please consider making a donation to Metro Music Therapy to help cover the costs of spreading cheer! (Suggested donation of $20.00 per Singing-gram: paypal.me/metromusictherapy)

Don’t Stop the Music!

Hello world!

Even if we can’t see you in person, please don’t stop the music! 

Did you know? “Listening to the music you love will make your brain release more dopamine, a crucial neurotransmitter for humans’ emotional and cognitive functioning.” (more here)

We have curated a list of ways that you can continue to have music in your life, and we have even included open-window singing grams.

I. TELETHERAPY & LESSONS

We now have an online platform which allows us to connect through video and audio with our clients! You do not need an account – we just send you the link to connect via email! We know that most facilities cannot have residents and clients together in the group rooms, which means everyone under your roof needs social connection now more than ever! Here is what is needed for individual teletherapy or telelesson sessions:

  • Broadband internet (15MB/second download speed and 5MB/second upload)
  • A smart device with a built-in camera and microphone (phone/tablet/laptop)
  • A family member or staff member to help support the logistics of the session (holding the device, adjusting volume, screen placement, and physical support to ensure safety)
  • Facilities: the ability to clean each device before moving from room to room (hospital steriwipes are great!)
  • We are now accepting NEW telelesson clients! If you are ready to give it a go, complete our online survey to make sure you are all squared away!

II. RECORDED MUSIC

Facilities:

  • Take a survey with your residents and find out what their favorite music is — genre, artist, decade, etc (these conversations alone will be so valuable to them!)
  • Provide this music for residents through CD players, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube, etc.
  • Be sure to build in breaks while providing access to this music – sometimes too much stimulation can cause agitation
  • Here at MMT we call it the “45/15 rule” – 45 minutes of music listening, then at least a 15 minute break — music is only powerful when there are also times of silence
  • Check in on your residents often and watch for signs of agitation, over-stimulation, or strong emotional reactions. If any of these are present, ask the resident if they would like to take a break, and possibly change genres of music.
  • How do we feel about headphones and iPod programs? They are great for some purposes, just be cautious on when to use them! If your residents are already feeling isolated, they may want to listen out in the open of their room and have a staff member listen with them, as opposed to having headphones on and feeling even more isolated. Ask them their preference!

Families: Parents, now is your chance! You have total control over all of the ears in your house! 😉

  • Play your favorite music for them, play their grandparents’ favorite music for them
  • Ask them what their favorite songs are
  • Write songs together (this doesn’t have to be hard: think mad libs to a familiar song/tune!)
  • Have your kids call their friends and ask them to name their favorite songs, and then help your kids create a playlist on Amazon Music, Spotify, etc.
  • Show them how to share this playlist so their friends can listen
  • Turn pencils, pots and pans into drums and make a band
  • Have your kids call your parents and interview them about their favorite music, who they saw in concert when they were younger, and what songs became the most important to them throughout their years
  • Make a family anthology with everyone’s favorite titles and artists. The possibilities are endless, and the memories you make will be priceless. Your kids will always remember this time, and of dancing in the kitchen to their parents’ and grandparents’ favorite music – even if they “don’t like it now.” 😉

III. ALEXA!

  • Get smart! (speakers and TVs)
  • Families, sing-a-long videos and movies are fun! (Hint: they don’t have to be new movies … the movies from your childhood are great!)
  • If in a facility and your residents have access to smart TVs, you can access music apps on the tvs, and some apps or playlists even have visuals to go with the audio for added visual stimulation.
  • If you can, get smart speakers for your resident’s rooms, teach them how to ask Alexa to play their favorite hits!
  • If you need pricing and details for administrative purchase approval, these Amazon Echo Dots are small and pretty well-priced (make sure your facility has good wifi before purchasing!)
  • Set up a charging station in the activity therapy office so that all equipment is stored and charged safely; wipe each speaker down in between use

IV. OLD-FASHIONED SERENADE

  • Facilities: We know we can’t come in to your facility … but if the windows can open in your facility, or if your residents have patios that open to a common outdoor green, and you are in our service area, we will come to you from outside! An open-window singing-gram!
  • Reach out to us to find out more about scheduling a time for us to come make our rounds at your facility or home!

V. HOMESCHOOL BLUES?

Families, while your children are completing their homeschool or digital learning day assignments, play some music in the house to help ease some tension (for everyone)!

  • Play instrumental music with no lyrics (when our brains hear lyrics, they want to sing along which may be distracting while completing school work!)
  • Less can be more! Save the orchestral symphonies for another time in the day – for studying, go for simplistic (piano, guitar or strings, spa music, etc)
  • Place the speaker in a room that allows everyone to hear, but is not too loud or too close to a child studying — you’re going for background ambiance, not front-row rock concert
  • Play something that you will all like – no sense in making yourself tense while trying to help your kids relax 😉
  • Mix it up! Our brains like novelty and respond well to it; if the music becomes too predictable, our brains will begin picking up on patterns and anticipating what is coming next (a great exercise, but again, could be distracting!)

Let us know how we can continue to support you. We’re all in this together!

Your partner in good health,

Teletherapy: Check 1, 2, 3…

In an effort to continue spreading music and joy (and not germs!) to our city while minimizing in-person contact, we are now offering on-line teletherapy services for all music therapy and music lessons. AND THIS MEANS YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIVE IN ATLANTA TO WORK WITH US!

CURRENT CLIENTS: Complete this survey to make sure this is a viable option for you

NEW CLIENTS: We can’t wait to meet you! Please complete our client intake form here

This is an unprecedented time, so we must be creative. Luckily, music therapists are some of the most creative people on the planet!

Let us know how we can help support you this week.

Your partner in good health,

2020-03-25T20:46:34+00:00March 16th, 2020|Music Therapy, We Can Help, Wellness|

MMT & COVID-19

9/1/2020 UPDATE: MMT continues to provide ONLY teletherapy services to keep you as safe as possible. Read more here.

_____________________________________________________________________________
Metro Music Therapy and Studio PTC are aware of the current state of hyper vigilance of COVID-19, aka “Corona Virus,” and are staying abreast of additional precautions that may need to be put into place in the near future. We feel this is a good time to let you know our plan should the virus effect you/your family, our team members, or the city of Atlanta at large.

MMT & STUDIO PTC’s STANDARD OPERATING ILLNESS POLICY (We already do this!)
Our therapists work with medically fragile clients, and we do not want to carry any illnesses to other families, infect ourselves, or our own families. Please cancel your therapy appointment if the client is sick. If your therapist is called or notified about the illness at least 12 hours before your scheduled appointment time, you will not be charged a “no-show” fee for your session. Again, it is understood that there are emergency situations and illnesses that can occur and these situations will be handled on a case to case basis. The Board of Health considers the following signs/symptoms as indications of communicable illness/disease: vomiting, diarrhea, rash/swelling, fever over 100◦, sore throat, red or running eyes. Please be sure you or the client is symptom-free for 24 hours before resuming therapy.

PREVENTION (We should all do these things now!)
If you or your loved one are sick, it is ideal and highly preferred that you cancel your therapy appointment by contacting your therapist directly with at least 12 hours’ notice; however, even short notice is better than no notice which allows our therapists to avoid unnecessary travel to and from your home or facility.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a list of things that you can do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing • If available, soap and water should be used preferentially over hand sanitizer if hands are visibly dirty
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Stay home when you are sick (please see our current illness policy if you have any questions)
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Wear a face mask/covering when out in public

CURRENT PRECAUTIONS FOR OUR STAFF (Our staff already does this and will continue to do so!)
Our staff are already operating by the following precautions and procedures:

  • Washing hands before and after each session, after eating, using the restroom, touching their face, or when their hands are visibly dirty
  • Utilizing hand sanitizer in lieu of soap and water in all of the above situations only if soap and water are not present
  • Sanitizing instruments in between each session
  • Staying home and cancelling sessions if they are sick
  • Following all additional CDC standards listed in the Prevention Section above
  • If our staff arrive on-site and a client, or a client’s family member or roommate(s) are sick, our therapists have been informed that they will leave that site immediately and the caregiver/point of contact should call the therapist to resume therapy and reschedule missed appointments only when client(s) have been symptom-free for at least 48 hours

At this time, our team is only able to provide teletherapy via our accounts on a HIPAA-protected online platform. 

If you have any questions for myself or our team, please reach out any time.

Your partner in good health,

 

 

 


Mallory Even, LPMT, MT-BC, NICU MT

Owner & Director, Metro Music Therapy & Studio PTC
mallory@metromusictherapyga.com

2020-09-14T13:31:46+00:00March 3rd, 2020|We Can Help, Wellness|

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

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