Rhythm2recovery: A Model of Practice Combining Rhythmic Music With Cognitive Reflection for Social and Emotional Health Within Trauma Recovery


Simon Faulkner


Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy




Rhythm pervades life in almost every context, from the smallest pulsating atom to the epic scale of our expanding universe. In our behaviour we are creatures of rhythm, following, initiating, and embedding patterns from the moment we are born, and within our physical anatomy rhythm is ever present, from our beating heart, through the rise and fall of our lungs and across the firing of our neurons. Healing traditions across all cultures invoke the rhythms of music, and the latest research from the field of neuro‐biology into the way this element impacts the brain, reinforces this traditional knowledge and provides a new understanding of the real potential for rhythmic music to be utilised in therapy. This article details the use of rhythmic music in combination with cognitive behavioural therapy as a model for practitioners working with those recovering from trauma, and the supporting evidence validating this approach. Since 2003 this model has been utilised in diverse settings from behavioural centres for young people at risk to refugee trauma centres, forensic psychiatric wards in prisons, and child and adult mental health services. Currently over 4,000 professionals across 20 different countries have completed training in this model. Consistent feedback has highlighted the value of this model in engaging clients not readily engaged in ‘talk‐based’ therapies, increasing social connection, and reducing psychological distress. The benefits of playing music socially with others, and of rhythmic music specifically, include increased levels of social integration, improvements in affect, mood stabilisation, reductions in anxiety and depression, and increases in self‐esteem. When combined with exercises that draw attention and initiate reflection on important life issues, such as improving relationships and overcoming adversity, this has the added benefit of utilising the whole brain and embedding learning at a deeper level. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Anxiety; Depression; Engagement Level; Interpersonal Problems; Mental Health; Mood; Music and Cognition; Playing an Instrument; Recreative Music Methods; Self-Concept; Trauma

Indexed Terms

rhythm; trauma; cognitive behavioural therapy; experiential therapy; Cognitive Therapy; Emotional Health; Mental Health

Study Type

Editorial, Opinions, Position Papers

Document Type