Arts for Healing and Transformation

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Artwork by an older woman in a California Prison Courtesy of Aileen Hongo

The Arts for Healing and Transformation project examines the use of the arts and alternative modalities, such as the spiritual healing arts, for improving individual and collective healing and transformation. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR; UN, 1948), states that everyone has the right to freely engage in the cultural life of a community, enjoy the arts, and share in scientific advancement and its benefits. Research, evaluation, and action projects are guided by the United Nations World Health Organization’s definition of health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Projects in this division promote the opportunity to provide individuals, families, and communities the opportunity to engage in the arts, have access to its research and evaluation findings about its effectiveness, is a basic fundamental human right. The growing body of evidence shows that the arts can be an influential factor in improving physical, mental (cognitive), emotional, social, and spiritual well-being and reduce criminal behavior and recidivism.

Highlighted Research and Evaluation Projects

Drawing by Patrick Stevenson, Professional Artist

Drawing by Patrick Stevenson, Professional Artist

Group Drumming and Well-Being: The I-We Rhythm Protocol

group-drummingThe I–We Rhythm Program and is a recreational drumming protocol and was developed by Tina Maschi. The 2-hour introductory session familiarizes helping professionals with recreational drumming and its usefulness in practice with clients and/or as a self- care strategy. The session is divided into four segments: (1) introduction to recreational music- making as a social work intervention strategy, (2) the basics of rhythm, (3) introduction to percussion instruments and hand drumming techniques, and (4) participation in group drumming. The first author, who is a licensed clinical social worker who was also a social work educator and professional musician, facilitated the workshop. The student participants explored the “rhythm of helping and social work” by learning the basics of rhythm and hand drumming techniques and then applying these skills in a series of group drumming exercises. The facilitator provided the percussion instruments to the participants. The instruments included hand drums (e.g., congas, djembes, and doumbeks) and hand- held percussion instruments (e.g., cowbells, agogo bells, wood blocks, tambourines, maracas, and other shakers). In addition to hands on experience with drumming, visual supports (e.g., handouts and PowerPoint slides) assisted participants in visualizing the basics of rhythm, rhythmic patterns, and hand- drumming techniques.

The two-hour protocol is designed to familiarize participants with recreational drumming and its usefulness in practice with clients and/or as a self-care strategy. The session is divided into four segments: (1) introduction to recreational music-making as a social work intervention strategy, (2) learning the basics of rhythm, (3) introduction to percussion instruments and hand-drumming techniques, and (4) participating in group drumming.

The participants learned the basics of rhythm and hand drumming techniques and then applied these skills in a series of group drumming exercises. All percussion instruments were provided to participants by the facilitator. These instruments included hand drums (e.g., congas, djembes, and doumbeks) and hand-held percussion instruments (e.g., cowbells, agogo bells, woodblocks, tambourines, maracas, and other shakers). In addition to hands-on experience with drumming, visual supports (e.g., handouts and PowerPoint slides) assisted participants in visualizing the basics of rhythm, rhythmic patterns, and hand-drumming techniques. Preliminary evidence shows that individuals who participate in the I-We-Rhythm Program show a decrease in stress and an increase in psychosocial well-being and empowerment. See the publications link to read more about our group drumming research. To find more about the intervention training or workshops, please contact collab@fordham.edu

Moving Stories Project: Oral History Project

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