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Lost and found in Music Therapy at Phoenix Society

Teisha smiles as she recalls her first Music Therapy session at Phoenix Society in 2021.

“I wasn’t even done my paperwork yet and the girls were on their way to Music Therapy. Before I even went to my room, I was in a session,” she laughed.

“It felt like a great ice breaker. Music is so raw. It gives you the ability to open up and express yourself without being judged. You can just sit in your feelings at that time, and be vulnerable enough to share. It takes a lot of strength to put yourself in that position, but music helps you in being courageous and being vulnerable.”

This is Teisha’s first time in treatment, and she wasn’t sure what to expect.

She did her research and the Music Therapy Program at Phoenix was part of her decision to start her recovery journey here. Teisha says the program has been therapeutic for her.

“It’s my favourite group out of all of them. I spend a lot of time listening to music. I taught myself how to play piano and guitar,” she explained.

Teisha and many others at Phoenix Society were thankful the program was able to continue amid the pandemic.

Tears have often been shed in the program, she explained.

Music helps Teisha lighten her mood and process hard feelings. In one of the first sessions Teisha attended, she chose an inspirational song that her mom used to play.

“It made me cry because it reminded me of home. It can bring back memories from hard times, but music makes things better. It’s easy to get lost in music, and I’ve always had a song for every emotion. It’s given me a non-judgmental place to open up and share songs that mean something to me.”

Felicia Wall has run the Music Therapy program at Phoenix since its inception six years ago.

During the pandemic, Felicia and intern Ian have offered weekly music jams and Music Therapy sessions, bi-monthly group piano and guitar lessons, as well as emotional processing groups and more than a dozen individual music sessions a month.

“People really thrive on music, and there was limited programing available due to restrictions in place,” Felicia explained. “Recently, someone lost a loved one, and in a class was the first time the emotions came out with the help of simple music from a guitar. The power of accessing emotions is important in recovery anytime, but especially when other things are shut down and you don’t have other ways of learning and being in the world.”

In the summer of 2020, Felicia and her intern Ian worked tirelessly with more than a dozen Phoenix clients to record an album, titled ‘Hear Our Voices.’

Tim Page recorded an original song on the album, and prior to arriving at Phoenix, the lifelong musician hadn’t touched his guitar in nearly two years.

“I knew I wanted to pick up music again and coming here gave me the opportunity to do that,” said Tim. “I have a hard time expressing myself. Through music I can communicate what is going on inside of me.”