Hoffman Homes Youth Find Hope, Healing Through Music
“Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls heart strings. It acts as medicine.” — Award-winning musician Macklemore
The medicinal benefits of music are quickly becoming evident throughout United Church of Christ-related Hoffman Homes for Youth in Littlestown, Pa. Already possessing a strong creative arts therapy program, Hoffman Homes just expanded to include music therapy
“Having a music therapy program offers our children an additional path to healing, and provides a meaningful means of stress relief and the development of anger management skills,” says Jennifer Sepic, supervisor for creative therapies. “It can also serve as a life-long coping skill and a form of safe, productive and healthy self-expression. Our goal is to use music –– in addition to art, pet, and horse therapies –– as a medicine, to make our kids’ lives better: socially, cognitively, physically, emotionally and developmentally.”
Thanks to some generous donors, the program began last fall. In addition to other improvements, the music studio was painted and renovated to include soundproofing, plus new technology for writing, playing, and listening to music. A GoFundMe campaign in 2016 brought in the needed monies for musical instruments.
Hoffman Homes is a CHHSM-member ministry providing residential treatment services for emotionally and behaviorally troubled children and teens. It also is a Sanctuary-Certified Organization, meaning that it centers on a therapeutic approach toward children who’ve suffered trauma that asks, “What’s happened to you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?” The creative arts therapies at Hoffman Homes are a key ingredient in reaching and helping the most vulnerable children.
“We firmly believe that by providing children with safe and creative outlets, in addition to traditional talk therapy, they are better supported on their journey of recovery from traumatic experience,” says Sepic.
Music therapist Eric Fisak concurs. “Using techniques [also] used in talk therapy –– such as self-talk and deep breathing –– music therapy will reinforce and complement the important work the children’s primary therapists do,” he says.
And how do the residents of Hoffman Homes feel? “Music is life!” says one. Music “helps me get motivated,” says another.
“Music often plays a significant role in our lives. I believe this to be particularly true with adolescents,” says Fisak. “Music therapy serves as a creative outlet that these children may not otherwise have. It offers another way to help our children develop socialization skills … enhance self-esteem, process past trauma, and contemplate the future.”
“Our goal was to build a healing and constructive therapeutic program using music,” Sepic says. “Virtually all of our children expressed a desire for a music therapy program.”
In the wise words of two young persons receiving life-saving healing through Hoffman Homes:
“Music enlightens the heart … [and] carries joy and comfort through our spirits, to let ourselves get through whatever we are facing.”
“Songs teach us that we can survive hard times. They allow us to hope for a better future and try to get there.”
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