Music Therapy: Giving Silent Patients a Voice in Recovery
Our Music Therapist, Brittany Harmon, takes great pride in helping our patients at Lakeview connect with themselves on a deeper level through music. Let’s get to know Brittany a little better and find out why music therapy is important to those in treatment and on their journey to recovery.
Q: As a Music Therapist, what does your job entail and how does it apply to our patients?
Brittany: I think about what I do as a formula. I observe and assess problem areas for individuals who struggle with addiction and apply various music interventions to tackle those areas. For instance, if an individual is struggling with anger management, my job is to create a therapeutic relationship in which the individual is able to apply active and/or passive music experiences to recognize and cope with anger. These experiences may involve breathing with music, drumming, or even songwriting. However I think it is important to note that one does not have to have a musical background to benefit from music therapy. Music outcomes are not the central goals in music therapy, but transferring these experiences to real world situations is.
Q: How did you get into the field of therapy?
Brittany: I always knew that I wanted to help people, but I did not want to become a doctor. That whole blood thing is not for me. I have also loved music since I was little and was involved in some sort of piano class, band, or choir for most of my life. I was initially studying to be an opera star when I was introduced to music therapy during a college course that addressed various music professions. A music therapist shared how she was able to use music to promote the physical and mental well-being, and I was hooked.
Q: What did you do prior to joining Lakeview?
Brittany: Prior to coming to Lakeview I had completed an internship at Florida Hospital as well as some coursework that allowed me to practice music therapy in the community.
Q: How do you feel that music therapy helps those in treatment?
Brittany: Our patients are so connected to their music. I think one of the things it does is motivate them to come to a group. When they come to group, they’re not in their rooms isolating. Even if they are in their rooms because they are too sick to come to group, I have heard from them later on that they appreciated the music and that it helped them to feel better. As we discuss the topics in songs, I hear people say that they never thought about a song like, “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, being so relate-able. One person will share her story and another individual swears that that is his story. It has given silenced patients a voice. It has brought communities together. Music tends to be a safe way to address some serious issues. That’s powerful.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Brittany: The most rewarding part of this job is getting to see individuals go from messed up to cleaned up. To see some of the most courageous, resilient people I know tackling and conquering this monster of addiction. I feel like a cheerleader on the sidelines sometimes, and I get to witness so much progress. I’m thankful they let me be a part of this beautiful journey that they are taking.
About Brittany Harmon
Brittany Harmon is a board-certified music therapist who has served clients in medical, psychiatric and educational settings throughout Florida. She received her bachelor’s degree in music from Stetson University and a master’s degree in music therapy from Florida State University.