group voice therapy exercise

Where Art and Therapy Collide – Sound and Voice Arts for Health and Wellbeing


There is a growing understanding of the positive impact that arts-based therapeutic sessions can have on health and wellbeing. There are now many different organisations championing the arts for health and wellbeing in many different ways – from organising trips to museums with exhibits that partially sighted people can touch, to knitting for good mental health – there are so many ways the arts can be used for therapeutic purposes.

By supplementing conventional medicine and care, sound, music and voice can be used to improve health and wellbeing. But what are sound and voice-arts and how does this approach differ from conventional Sound Therapy or Sound Healing?

Sound and Voice Arts

There are so many different ways you can use sound and voice arts including creating performances, recordings, sound installations, improvisational voice pieces and soundscapes. All ages can benefit and the application is so wide. The therapeutic outcomes include pain relief, communication skills building, musicality, social skills, confidence, working through difficult life experiences, higher level thinking, sequencing and processing skills and just for the heaven of it!

The approach is different from conventional sound and voice therapy in that it is not ‘passive’, it is participative with the group in the driving seat of the process, steering, guiding and shaping a session. The sound/voice arts facilitator scaffolds, mentors and supports, using their professional judgement to help move the session towards the intended outcome. This makes such sessions wonderfully dynamic, creative and fun. In a usual sound therapy session, the client lays down and receives the sound as a treatment, so it is a very different approach.

A sound/voice-arts session also can incorporate other areas of the arts such as poetry, story-telling or painting. Soundscape sessions are an example of this – a group may take a beautifully dark and moving Turner sea-scape and reflect the energy of the picture with gongs, drums and voice for example. The wonderfully moving ‘Tone Poems’ are songs with non-sensical words and are used to bridge gaps and allow barriers and constructs to fall (they are also so much fun to create!). The inspiration from the Tone Poems goes back to a time when trade-routes would have brought tribes, cultures and world-views together to share stories, songs and dances.

Taking things Forward – Training Opportunities

The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) has been developing courses to meet the growing need for ‘the arts on prescription’ since we ran the first ‘Therapeutic Sound in the Community Course’ in 2010. In 2019 we will be offering 2 different Sound and Voice Arts Courses that can be combined to create Higher Level Diplomas. These include the sound and voicescapes, games, improvisation and a whole range of activities you can do with many different community groups from children to the elderly.

You can get involved with these courses by getting in touch. We hope to see you soon.

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