letter card that spell out "Under the spell of Growth" sitting on a tabletop

Under the Spell of Growth: Music Therapy Activity for Troubled Youth

I have only been working at STAR Center as a music therapist for 7 months now. Two months into my new job, I had the opportunity to start and grow a contract at our county juvenile detention center. When I found out that I was going to be working at this facility, I automatically started looking everywhere for articles and research on music therapy in correctional settings or anything on programs used within juvenile detention centers.

Due to the lack of research with music therapy and this population I relied on the information provided on different programs with common goals for the group. After reading over several different program designs/activities, I took the ones that lined up with the goals set for the group and then went to the drawing board and began creating and adapting music therapy interventions.

Letter cards, printed excerpts of song lyrics, and team labeled folders sitting on a tabletop.

Today, I want to share one of those intervention with you that I like to call “Under the Spell of Growth”. I started by creating a list of characteristics/attributes that one typically possesses when growing (eg. change, acceptance, priorities, decision-making, etc.). After completing the list, I made sure I went through and created enough letter cards for each word to be spelled out. Then, I created a word scramble for each characteristic/attribute on the list. Taking the list, I then found a song or an excerpt of a song (eg. verse, chorus, or bridge) related to each word. By only taking a portion of certain songs, it allowed me to use more songs within the groups’ music preference.

Once I found all of the songs/music excerpts, I printed out the lyrics, cut them into squares, and wrote the number on the back that corresponded with the word scramble. I then identified one question that I could ask that would lead the group to discover the theme of the song. Upon completing and gathering all of the materials, I separated the materials into two separate envelopes (one for each team). To help the intervention run smoothly during the session, I went through and wrote the exact portion/time of the song that I would need.

When it comes to leading the session, I split the group into two teams and handed them their envelopes. Before getting started, I explained all the materials in their 9 puzzel pieces that are being placed together to create the image of a light bulbenvelopes and gave them a helpful tip in setting out the letters used in the word scramble prior to the music excerpt being played. After each team completely understands the intervention, I call out the number of the music excerpt I will play, have the group find the lyrics, play the song off a music device, ask the pre-determined question, and give further hints if needed for the group to identify the  word. Once a group has successfully completed the round, I award the team their points and then begin the next round, repeating the steps above.

This population has been growing me in many areas as a new music therapist, and although there have been several moments where I wondered if I was even making a difference, I know that with every session I have a better understanding of the approach to use within the correctional and forensic setting.

For more information, on this particular intervention and/or approach please feel free to contact me at katlin.ross@star-center.org.


About the Author : Katlin Ross

Originally from Vancleave, Mississippi, Katlin E. Ross graduated from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi with a Bachelor of Music Therapy in 2017. She completed her clinical internship at Star Center, Inc. in Jackson, Tennessee in May 2017 and received her MT-BC credential in March 2018. Katlin joined the Star team full time in November 2017.

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