Ther­apy

Anx­ious? De­pressed? It’s time to switch up your playlist.

Fashion (Canada) - - CONTENTS - By Made­lyn Chung

We ex­plore feel­good songs with mu­sic lovers and psy­chother­a­pists alike.

Car­cia Camp­bell grad­u­ated from univer­sity with a jour­nal­ism de­gree in 2002, but af­ter fac­ing a lot of re­jec­tion while try­ing to find work in her field, she be­came clin­i­cally de­pressed. For eight months, the Toronto-based blog­ger and mu­si­cian sought help from doc­tors, ther­a­pists and fam­ily mem­bers—but noth­ing seemed to work. It wasn’t un­til a friend “forced” her to go to a Du­ran Du­ran con­cert that her real heal­ing be­gan. The mo­ment the band’s hit song “Rio” came on, some­thing in Camp­bell shifted. While ev­ery­one else danced, she cried. But she wasn’t sad. In­stead, she felt a sense of peace be­cause she used to lis­ten to that song while sit­ting in the back seat of her mom’s Oldsmo­bile. “It took me back to my child­hood and made me feel good—it made me feel safe,” she re­calls. “Du­ran Du­ran’s con­cert prob­a­bly saved my life.”

Af­ter the Du­ran Du­ran con­cert, Camp­bell went into a “Cold­play stage” where she lis­tened to the band’s X&Y and Parachutes al­bums on re­peat. “It was kind of like the vi­bra­tions of the mu­sic lit­er­ally just came into my body and filled up all the empty spaces, which is what I think mu­sic does,” she says, adding that she hadn’t “sung a note” while she was de­pressed but be­gan to sing again fol­low­ing the con­cert. “[Singing to my­self] was a re­minder that there was a life in­side of me and I needed to find a pur­pose rather than feel sad all the time.” Camp­bell cred­its mu­sic as well as psy­chother­apy with help­ing her to move on with her life. And now, through HerCastleGirls.com, the blog Camp­bell co-founded with her sis­ter, Chantel, she is able to con­tinue in­cor­po­rat­ing mu­sic into her life on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. “I could never imag­ine my life with­out singing or cre­at­ing, talk­ing about or lis­ten­ing to mu­sic.” The pow­er­ful ef­fect mu­sic has had on Camp­bell’s life is a re­lat­able nar­ra­tive. Mu­sic serves as a form of ther­apy for many or, as Toronto-based cre­ative direc­tor Talya Macedo says, “ends up be­ing a sound­track to our lives.” Just think of the times you have used mu­sic to help change your mood or state of mind. You turn on Kanye West’s “Power” while go­ing for a run, play Adele’s “Some­one Like You” to get through a heart­break or put »

on Mozart’s “Pi­ano Con­certo No. 23” to help you fo­cus while you’re work­ing.

Dreyuh Safo, a Toronto-based mu­sic mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant, cre­ates mood-based playlists on the side be­cause she sees mu­sic as a form of es­capism. “If you’re work­ing on some­thing, or even if you’re clean­ing, you’re kind of al­ways in your head…so mu­sic helps you or­ga­nize your thoughts,” she says. “For me, I love Daniel Cae­sar’s ‘Freudian.’ When it starts go­ing into the choir cho­rus…. I will some­times fast-for­ward to there just to feel it in my chest be­cause I’m like, ‘Oh, I need this re­lease.’”

While cre­at­ing our own playlists can be ther­a­peu­tic, pro­fes­sion­als have been us­ing mu­sic to treat emo­tional and phys­i­cal is­sues since the mid-1900s, when psy­chother­a­pists used it in their prac­tices. In the ’40s, the first mu­sic ther­apy col­lege train­ing pro­gram was cre­ated in the United States, and by the mid-’50s, Cana­dian mu­sic ther­a­pists be­gan to of­fer their unique ser­vices to treat emo­tional trauma.

“A lot of peo­ple in­trin­si­cally un­der­stand that mu­sic can be used to im­pact their mood,” says El­iz­a­beth Mitchell, a reg­is­tered psy­chother­a­pist and ac­cred­ited mu­sic ther­a­pist who works at Wil­frid Lau­rier Univer­sity in Water­loo, Ont., and Home­wood Health Cen­tre in Guelph, Ont. “Mu­sic ther­apy hones in on that and is sim­ply a more in­ten­tional process, con­ducted un­der the di­rec­tion of a ther­a­pist.”

A ses­sion can in­volve a ther­a­pist and a client cre­at­ing a playlist that is de­signed for that per­son’s spe­cific is­sues. “It may be de­signed to im­pact a par­tic­u­lar mood, like de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety,” says Mitchell, adding that she lis­tens to a calm­ing playlist when go­ing to the den­tist. “Or maybe it’s for a spe­cific pur­pose, like to help some­one when they’re tempted to use a sub­stance or are strug­gling to fall asleep at night.”

While we cre­ate our own playlists based on taste, mu­sic ther­a­pists work with their clients to cu­rate lists based on a con­cept known as the iso-prin­ci­ple. This tech­nique in­volves the ther­a­pist match­ing mu­sic to the cur­rent mood and phys­i­cal state of the client and then pre­sent­ing new mu­sic to in­cre­men­tally or grad­u­ally en­cour­age the de­sired change. For ex­am­ple, if a client is feel­ing sad, the playlist may be­gin with Cold­play’s “Fix You” to ex­press how the client is feel­ing and fin­ish with Florence + The Ma­chine’s “Dog Days Are Over” to en­cour­age mo­ti­va­tion and a feel­ing of hope.

“If some­one’s feel­ing de­pressed and they’d like to feel hap­pier or more calm and grounded, some­times it’s more help­ful to start the playlist with a song that val­i­dates their sad­ness,” says Mitchell. “Then you work with the pa­tient to in­cre­men­tally change their mood by choos­ing songs that are a bit less sad, a lit­tle hap­pier or calmer.”

But mu­sic ther­apy isn’t just about lis­ten­ing to pre­scribed mu­sic, ex­plains Mitchell, adding that the ex­pe­ri­ence is much more in­ter­ac­tive. Ses­sions can in­volve a ther­a­pist and client mak­ing im­pro­vi­sa­tional mu­sic to­gether on in­stru­ments such as a pi­ano, a guitar or a sin­gle drum or writ­ing songs. But it goes far be­yond a per­son bang­ing on a drum to ex­press their anger. An­drea La­mont, a reg­is­tered psy­chother­a­pist and cer­ti­fied mu­sic ther­a­pist who works at Hol­land Bloorview Kids Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Hospi­tal in Toronto, says she uses a va­ri­ety of in­stru­ments, so clients can find a sound that res­onates with them, and lets them ex­press their feel­ings through that in­stru­ment. “I then meet and match their sound so it feels like they’re be­ing heard and be­ing rec­og­nized,” she says. “Cre­at­ing mu­sic in the mo­ment helps clients feel their emo­tions and stretches them to in­ten­sify or deepen the ex­pe­ri­ence. We al­ways safely bring them back to a place where we’re able to re­solve any deeper or big­ger emo­tions be­fore the end of the ses­sion.”

For Mitchell, it’s about two peo­ple lis­ten­ing to each other, re­spond­ing and ex­press­ing how they’re feel­ing. “The im­pro­vised mu­sic of­ten has a lot of par­al­lels to a con­ver­sa­tion—it just doesn’t have to con­tain words,” she ex­plains.

La­mont agrees. “I think there are a lot of time­less qual­i­ties to cer­tain mu­sic that can re­ally pull peo­ple to­gether and make them feel like they’re con­nected and they’re part of some­thing. We need that, so­cially.”

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