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Music and Images Help Troubled Young People

Birgitte Vange is a consulting psychiatrist at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section at Augustenborg Hospital. In cooperation with Marianne Nielsen, Birgitte has developed a therapeutic tool where Dialoogle picture cards are used in combination with music.

Music and Images Help Troubled Young People

We see them everywhere. Young people with headphones on. They listen to music in the streets, on the train and riding their bicycles. Music works as a catalyst for emotions. A free space where they can be playful, creative and alive. Brigitte Vange is using this potential in a treatment programme for children and young people with psychiatric problems such as ADHD, eating disorders, anxiety and depression. The aim is personal development, learning, increased self-esteem and inclusion into a community. The means are music and conversations about life, hopes, dreams and the problems and challenges young people face. 

“The trick is to get the young people talking, and the transition between music and conversations can be difficult. Often young people do not like to talk in front of a group of people; and talking about your problems does not become easier when you suffer from low self-esteem and you are no longer a part of the community. This is where the Dialoogle picture cards can make a difference. They work like a 'can opener', making the words flow more easily”, says Birgitte Vange, consulting psychiatrist at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section at Augustenborg Hospital. In coopertion with Marianne Nielsen from the Sønderborg School of Music, she has developed a therapeutic tool that combines Dialoogle cards with music.

She asks her young clients to choose a piece of music that means something to them and bring it to the group session. After listening to the music, Birgitte asks the group to think about the associations that the music creates and choose cards that represent them. 

“One of my clients chose a card depicting an elephant and another depicting a beach. Then he explained how the song made him dream of travelling to exotic countries, seeing wild animals and maybe riding an elephant. Then, as the facilitator, I could ask him questions about his dreams and include the rest of the group with questions such as: Do any of you dream of something similar? What can the rest of you tell me about the images you have chosen to go with the song? It is important to be present, be creative and catch every single opportunity for dialogue.

In another of Birgitte’s music/image exercises she asks the young people to choose a picture card with a certain complexity, describe the different moods present in the image, and subsequently express these moods with an instrument, a rhythm or using their voice. The results are recorded on a mobile phone so that they can be replayed later and be used as the basis for an in-depth discussion.

To conclude a group discussion, all participants write a note for each of their fellow participants about the development they have noticed in them.

This means that each individual takes home a bunch of notes saying things like you have gotten so much better at sharing your thoughts, you have become really good at playing the drums, or telling us about your father was very courageous. Through the course of sessions, the young people receive a large number of these positive acknowledgements that they keep on their notice board as a tangible signs of approval from their peers and symbols of being a part of a social community.

Category: Supervision
Type: Conversation
Quantity: Fewer than 30
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