Monday, February 18, 2013

The Musician and The Therapist: How I Bridged Two Paths

Up until 2009 I felt I was traveling down two distinct paths. I had been writing and performing music for many years and was beginning to attract a steady stream of drum students. I was also a year into a graduate program in mental health. The bridging of these paths became evident when I discovered a research study led by a neurologist and now personal hero of mine, Dr. Barry Bittman.

Although drumming has been used therapeutically for thousands of years in virtually every culture—legitimacy in our "evidence-based" culture demands hard science. Dr. Bittman "legitimized" drumming when he published results showing significant decreases in stress (cortisol hormone) and increases in immune function (cancer and virus fighting "Natural Killer" cells) following a designed group drumming protocol.

With this research and the wealth of studies that followed, I soon found every possible way to integrate music-making into my coursework. I wrote research papers and presented on "Group Drumming: A Stress-Reducing Modality," "Family Therapy Group Drumming," "Drumming in ADHD Group Therapy for Children and Adolescents," and more. During my internships I brought this work to life by integrating drumming in individual and group therapies and classroom workshops in an inner-city elementary school and a specialized middle school program for adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities.

In future posts I plan to share my experiences from Dr. Bittman's 3-day workshop in which I became an endorsed facilitator of his evidence-based protocol (HealthRHYTHMS), how I came to form my Beatwell drumming workshops for clinical and non-clinical populations of all ages, and much more.


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