HOW CAN MUSIC ACTIVELY ASSIST IN TREATING ADDICTION AND TRAUMA?
John Levine links music to brain waves – and therapist Richard Scanlan reports how this has helped his patients’ process of recovery.
Print-friendly version, from May Addiction Today journal:
Download AddictionToday136 – Alphamusic, therapy
"While at the UKESAD conference last year, I met Richard Scanlan, a senior specialist therapist at Castle Craig Hospital," writes John Levine, the creator of alphamusic which links to brainwaves. "Richard was attending my joint presentation, at which he shared with other participants that he had been using alphamusic to great effect with his clients, in particular when used with EMDR, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing. Afterwards, he decided to utilise alphamusic in a group therapy setting, to see what further effect it might have in complement to his treatment of addiction and trauma clients. The following is his account, one year after the symposium, of the effects of alphamusic on patients attending a trauma group."
THE THERAPIST’S CASE HISTORY
“For the past five years, I have facilitated a trauma group at Castle Craig Hospital. The group addresses the complex issues of treating traumatic stress and addiction simultaneously in a 12-step rehab. Our members include combat veterans, survivors of sexual assault and physical violence.
The aim of the group is to learn skills to cope with the ‘here and now’ and problems associated with traumatic experience. Individual members will receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and EMDR outside the group setting. The group is seen as a sanctuary or a safe place to tolerate the effects of the past, not revisit them.
Soon after setting up the group, I discovered alphamusic. I had previously used ambient music to create a calm atmosphere at appropriate stages of the group as there is a strong psycho-education component in learning about the body’s reaction to stress and teaching mindfulness or self soothing strategies. I replaced Brian Eno’s ambient music with an alphamusic recording during one session and found a profound change in the patients’ response. I was intrigued.
A US soldier described to me that ‘The education made more sense… I felt calmer… [and] was able to visualise a more positive future’. Other members reported similar findings.
I had been working with this patient individually and was aware of his deep complex trauma and diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. He had received EMDR and it was not unheard-of for patients to have such moments of clarity. He stated that the music had a direct influence on him. I continued to use the alphamusic and have heard this consistently reiterated by other members. I tried ambient music with the same group and they reported calmness but not the same profound sense they got from the alphamusic.
Alphamusic is now permanently integrated into the group work. It would be interesting to see some more scientifically validated studies on the music.”
MEET JOHN AND RICHARD AT UKESAD 2012.