From the Imprint–Foster parents are called on to make sure the kids in their homes receive talk therapy, cognitive therapy and family therapy. But experts who treat trauma in kids removed from their homes say there’s another modality that can be highly effective — bringing out a child’s love of rap, pop or rock ‘n’ roll.
“Music helps you get through the day; if you are down or if you are happy, music gives you a train of thought, it helps you think better,” a then-17-year-old foster youth identified as Steve told music therapy researchers for a 2012 study. After being moved through 11 foster homes since age 2, Steve’s musical choices were directly linked to how he was experiencing his biological and foster families, either positively or negatively. Some of his favorite rappers, Meek Mill and Young Money, helped him get out his frustrations and escape from daily struggles.
Child welfare specialists say music is an ideal form of therapy because it creates a nonverbal outlet for young people who have experienced trauma or loss to express their emotions. Across the country, a growing number of service providers are recognizing how helpful it can be for foster youth who may be reluctant to engage in talking through their issues with a clinician — or those who are simply tired of telling their stories to child welfare professionals again and again.
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