Drum Therapy Helps Troubled Teens
After three months, 17-year-old Josh’s impression of therapeutic drumming circle has evolved: “Seemed like it would be really hard to express your feelings on a drum, but over time it becomes kind of easy to express what you’re feeling with sound.”
“A lot of people think drum circle you just play drums, but drums are just part of it. It’s mainly expressing feelings to the group and sometimes you can do that using drums as a medium of doing so or you could just talk,” he added.
The program is a collaborative effort between the Delaware County Juvenile Court, Maryhaven, and the Central Ohio Symphony.
The symphony’s executive director and lead percussionist Warren Hyer brought the idea to the juvenile court, and, in just a few short years, he’s watched the program and the youth grow.
“It’s interesting to see the young people change. It’s sometimes slow, sometimes it’s fast. There’s lots of little successes and we gain a lot of pleasure in those very, very small successes,” Hyer said after a recent session.
Hyer, and fellow percussionist Caitie Thompson, help facilitate the sessions.
“My goal as a facilitator is to try to help each of my participants communicate better with those around them and to realize that the world is not completely out to get them,” Thompson said.
Judge David Hejmanowski is pleased with the partnership and stated: “I think it highlights, though, the need for us to be willing to find creative ways, innovative ways, of being successful with folks who have very serious and very hard to break addictions.”
Rhonda Milner, clinical supervisor at Maryhaven in Delaware, follows a written protocol for each session.
“There’s so many different skill-building things built into it: leadership building, teamwork, self-esteem building, communication, problem solving,” Milner said.
While a grant helps fund the program, it was a Kickstarter campaign that allowed the symphony to commission an original musical piece that incorporated the drumming circle and led the nearly sold-out crowd on a journey of the program participants – from addiction to recovery and graduation.
“These were young people who don’t want to do what you ask, they could care less about anything, they’re not interested in anything, and they played the entire piece with precision and total dedication,” Hyer said of the March performance.