Jamming On The Djembe – Drumming As Therapy In Acute Adult Mental Health

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Authors: Sally McCallum, WA

Year: 2009

Event: 2009 TheMHS Conference


Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

ISBN: 9780975765357

Abstract: Treatment options in mental health settings are predominantly ‘talking therapies’, but for many people at crisis point, an alternative might be more appropriate. Evidence is mounting for meaningful activity based treatment options as a viable complement to the more traditionally respected therapies. To this end, the Occupational Therapy Department in the Department of Psychiatry at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital collaborated with Holyoake, a leading national drug and alcohol treatment service, to conduct a modified DRUMBEAT pilot programme. DRUMBEAT is an activity based music therapy involving hand drumming. The DRUMBEAT program was adapted from its original formula, to meet the needs of a short-term population, but the basic content and structure of the sessions remained similar. The pilot program aimed to explore the suitability of the DRUMBEAT programme within an acute adult inpatient setting and its efficacy in regard to social relationships, regulation of emotion and symptom management. The findings of this small pilot were overwhelmingly positive. All participants identified positive effects on self-esteem, mood, concentration, and motivation. The drumming itself attracted interest from people otherwise difficult to engage, crossed language and cultural barriers and provided a non-threatening medium for interaction and cooperation. Subsequently, “Jamming on the Djembe” has become a popular, effective and regular component of the group treatment programme. This paper will discuss the pilot and outcomes of the ongoing programme from participant and therapist perspectives.

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