When music therapy is described, it is often described as using music to reach non-musical goals. More specifically, the therapeutic domains that music therapy addresses are cognitive, physical, communication, social, and emotional. The use of music therapy with individuals and groups of people with disabilities is often highlighted as it is an effective therapeutic modality to help individuals reach physical, cognitive, communication, and even social goals. Music therapy to address the emotional domain is not publicized as often. The music therapists at the Star Center have the privilege of working with several groups in which targeting the emotional domain is the primary goal for music therapy. One such group is Scarlet Rope Project.
According to their website, Scarlet Rope Project is a “faith based nonprofit that exists to provide a safe place of healing and restoration to female survivors of sex trafficking” (scarletropeproject.com). Music therapy at Scarlet Rope focuses on a few different intervention models. One model is teaching musical skills (learning to play the ukulele or guitar) in order to provide residents with recreational skills while healing from trauma. Another model is using music to aid in emotional identification and expression through lyric analysis. Yet another model is through songwriting. Sometimes songwriting is in the form of rewriting an existing song to better reflect personal experiences. At other times, it is completely writing a new piece of music. The recording in this article is a completely original piece.
The inspiration for this project came from a human trafficking survivor course. In particular, Scarlet Rope incorporates the “Ending the Game“ curriculum. This curriculum is specifically designed for those who are victims of human trafficking. In this particular curriculum, there is an affirmation statement that the course participants recite on a regular basis. It was the desire of the ladies to set the affirmation statement to music. This was a collaborative project with the residents where they chose how they wanted the song to sound and the music therapist facilitated the songwriting process. The process began with dividing the statement into verses and a chorus, composing a melody, choosing a musical style, and adding instruments and harmony. The process was joyful at times and uncomfortable at times. Throughout the songwriting journey, all women participated, all women worked together, and all women provided insight and pushed themselves. This project served to solidify their identities as strong survivors and to give them a creative outlet to express their emotions. They are all strong survivors indeed!