Comprehensive co-occurring disorders treatment can and should include a variety of activities and methods for self-expression and self-discovery. When you’re in a city steeped in music history, it’s only natural to include music in your programming. Memphis is the home of Elvis Presley and Sun Studios, among others. The blues originated here, and Beale Street remains an attraction for music-minded visitors. That was all taken into account when we envisioned the new music room at The Oaks. The result is an important addition offering some amazing options for exploration and inspiration.
Contractor Mike Owen of Owen Construction began by looking at Memphis’ historic Ardent Studios for ideas. He sought out the man who designed their space and used that expertise to create a place that is beautiful and functional. This included making sure that all the walls are angled—with no 90-degree surfaces—to reflect sound back and forth. It also meant adding a recording booth and furnishing the room with music-themed artwork by international artists and local musicians alike.
In this exciting space, The Oaks’ music therapist, Rachel Everett, leads therapeutic songwriting workshops and creative arts groups. She holds a BA in music education and music therapy and is board certified as a music therapist, so she brings a great deal of expertise with her. We also have a “visiting musician” program that takes advantage of the national and international talent that passes through Memphis on a regular basis. Along with local musicians, these artists are invited in for presentations, concerts and even jam sessions with the patients. The music room’s recording capabilities allow for capturing the moment digitally as a keepsake for all involved.
You don’t need to be proficient in music to benefit from this program. A wide range of instruments will be available; African ankle bells and other unique tools will inspire patients of all musical ability to get up and move, engaging the body, mind and creative spirit. Patients also have the option to record in the V-shaped, glass recording booth, complete with a mixing board and all the tools necessary to record a song. Residents can then take their compositions home with them on a CD or thumb drive.
Playing music can be very therapeutic, and our music program emphasizes healing through creative expression.
We mark moments and tie memories to specific songs that remain deeply ingrained in our psyche. Even when we forget dates or numbers, we can remember a line from a song or a melody from a decades-old tune because it’s processed in a different part of the brain. Tying music into treatment and the therapeutic process makes perfect sense because it helps to solidify the important work a patient is doing. It can also provide a future touchstone. During a rough period in recovery, patients can return to recordings made during a time of tremendous growth and be reminded of the deep work they did and all they’re capable of. In this way, the music program’s benefits live on long after treatment is finished.