Therapeutic DrummingWe all know that active music making offers many benefits to people of all ages and abilities. From the physical activity of holding and playing the instruments, to the cognitive challenges of learning and playing specific rhythms, to the social connections we make with others, drumming is a satisfying experience we can all enjoy.

Drumming is considered ‘therapeutic’ when it is engaged intentionally as a means of creating a positive physical, cognitive, emotional, and/or psycho-social outcome. It’s not as much about the specifics of the drumming, as it is about the intention and outcomes. There are many types of music making that may or may not produce positive physical, cognitive, or emotional results. Therapeutic Drumming represents those drumming experiences that ARE aimed at creating positive outcomes.

Benefits of Therapeutic Drumming

Outcomes range, depending on the modality, participants, and their goals, but some common outcomes include:

  • increasing physical activity.
  • deepening a sense of accomplishment.
  • facilitating self-expression.
  • increasing self-esteem.
  • strengthening interpersonal relationships.
  • expressing what words alone cannot.
  • improving mental clarity.
  • reducing anxiety and increasing a state of peacefulness.

These are a few of the targeted outcomes of many Therapeutic Drumming experience.

Forms of Therapeutic Drumming

TD experiences range from individual to group and music-centered to process-centered. Some examples include:

  • an individual practicing specific techniques and rhythms as a means to activate the mind/body internal reward system.
  • an individual playing as a way to support an existing spiritual or meditation practice.
  • two people playing together as a way to create and improve inter-musical and interpersonal relationships.
  • a group of people playing together as a way to create community support between members.
  • a group of people playing together as a way to share thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
  • a group of people playing together as a way to explore various ideas, concepts, and solutions.

The goal of Therapeutic Drumming is not to ‘treat’ an individual who may be in need of therapy, but to help create a gentle shift in a positive direction.

Therapeutic Drumming is often used within a variety of therapeutic programs as an integrated component. For example, it might be used as an ice-breaker experience to help participants feel more at ease or as a non-verbal form of communication that serves to indicate mutual support and sharing among members. When used as a component of a larger program, the therapeutic benefits are often amplified by the presence of healthcare professionals, such as music therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, councelors, etc.

Populations Served by Therapeutic Drumming

Any person or group of people who are able to participate in a rhythmic/drumming experience may benefit. Some populations that are currently being served by Therapeutic Drumming experiences include:

  • Vetrans
  • Older Adults
  • At-Risk Teens
  • Support Groups
  • Retreat Participants
  • Children with Special Needs

Therapeutic Drumming Programs

In recent years, therapeutic drumming programs have grown in number and popularity. Individuals who wish to gain skills and knowledge with a view to creating and improving a personal practice or facilitating TD experiences for others often complete some type of training.

Popular Therapeutic Drumming programs include:

To learn more about Therapeutic Drumming, join the Therapeutic Drumming Network at http://therapeuticdrumming.net.