Music Therapy Response to Domestic Violence

The Michael Bolton Charities (MBC), in partnership with New Haven’s BH Care-Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence, recently operated an innovative music therapy program for children and women exposed to domestic violence, as a pilot program in a confidential shelter.

The goal of The MBC in creating the program for children exposed to domestic violence was to bring the positive potential of this unique therapy to bear on the often enduring effects of domestic violence. Through the use of interactive, client-preferred music, individuals participating in music therapy services were provided with opportunities to address their individualized needs, such as to address and cope with their feelings related to abuse or violence.

At the time the initiative was launched, in Connecticut during a 24-hour period, domestic violence hotlines average more than 8 calls every hour, more than 300 domestic violence victims find refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing, more than 500 adults and children receive critical support services and more than 100 requests for services go unmet due to lack of resources.

A well-established health care profession, music therapy uses carefully selected music and music interventions to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. While music therapy will not cure or solve problems brought on by crisis, music therapy can help children and adults in crisis learn and use positive coping skills and express difficult feelings and emotions.

Program partner for the pilot was BH Care-Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services (UCDVS), an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of domestic violence and its effect on the community, empowering those victimized by providing advocacy and safe and effective services, and to working for social change to eliminate domestic violence.  Cyd Slotoroff, MT-BC, worked with the children and their mothers.

At the conclusion of the 2-year pilot, which coincided with a comprehensive study assessing the need for a Family Justice Center in Connecticut to respond to acute local community priorities, resources were directed toward the launch of the FJC in New Haven, which was accomplished in 2018.

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