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Music Therapy First Aid: Using Music for Disaster Relief

by Kimberly on June 28, 2012 · 3 comments

I’ve been following the horrific wildfires that have been spreading in Colorado this month. Have you? As a recent Colorado resident, it’s so hard to imagine the devastation happening in that beautiful part of our country. I have many friends who continue to post pictures of the fires on Facebook and one who lost her home this week.

Disasters happen. Natural disasters, man-made disasters…they happen. And people cope with disasters differently, both in the immediate aftermath and long-term.

Clinically, I have had experienced working with children who have experienced severe and prolonged trauma. But what about the trauma that can happen because of a disaster? Some music therapists work in this area, doing something we could call “music therapy first aid.”

As always, these sessions would be designed to meet that individual’s need, since everyone will respond to a disaster differently. They may happen individually or in a group. These “music therapy first aid” sessions could incorporate interventions such as songwriting, lyric analysis, drumming, and improvisation. The treatment goals will vary, but can include:

  • Promoting relaxation and calm
  • Increasing a sense of resilience
  • Encouraging connectedness and reinforcing the idea that you are not alone
  • Supporting future plans
  • Relieving stress

In addition, the music therapist can help make a recommendation on whether he or she thinks the client would benefit from future, more long-term services.

Interested in learning more? Then check out Barb Else’s chapter titled “Perspectives and Priorities in Disaster Response” in the book Music Therapy and Trauma: Bridging Theory and Clinical Practice.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikhil June 28, 2012 at 7:47 am

That is awful, I hope everyone is ok! 🙁
Nikhil´s last blog post ..Two versions of the Cerulean City Theme from Pokemon

learn online music July 27, 2012 at 2:11 am

Your post seems to be very awesome.I enjoyed it while reading.I’m glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

Xiaotian Liu December 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Link to the book chapter did not work 🙁 But nice article, thank you!

I’m a MT student from University of Kansas, currently doing my hospice internship. I’ve been seeing your face in national conferences, so nice to meet you here! Please keep up the nice work with this website 🙂


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