Written by Helene Butter –
Find Helene on social media at: Eleneh Flowering Light
I completed the Group Voice Arts Therapy Course in the summer of 2022 after about a year and a half of deep learning and discovering. I had wanted to do a course with the British Academy of Sound Therapy for several years but had found it difficult to choose which one, their courses all looked so good! As I believe is the case for many people who choose the sound as medicine path, I became drawn to this world after a strong experience of how powerful using my voice can be when giving birth and vocalising helped with the pain. The experience made me reconsider my relationship to singing, I started to see it as a healing tool and a way to connect to something bigger than I. I then realised I had always done this, especially as a child, inventing songs, playing with sounds, and this is why I ended up choosing the Voice Arts Course rather than the holistic one as in my experience, the creative process has been something that literally saved me at times, having suffered from bad depression in the past.
Yes this course is great for people who really believe creativity is therapy, because it goes into the therapeutic benefits of vocal improvisation. Improvisation is not just for jazz musicians, it is for everyone and doing this course made me realise that improvisation is life, it is a natural way of connecting to self and others. As one of my group participants said, ‘I never knew I could be so creative’, this was the feedback time and time again. Doing the groups felt like I was giving people permission to explore, to free themselves, to play, to open up to new ways of listening. We looked at the effect that different voicescapes have on mood, how they can bring you into the present moment, how you can have fun with sound and let your imagination run wild. Creating something new as a group is a very powerful tool for communication beyond the limitations of language, race and so on. Actively making sonic art together is a deep process on many levels and it brings up what needs to be seen and worked with, so as to move beyond self imposed limitations.
I did the course online and can safely say it prepared me well for doing the case studies. I really enjoyed the online classrooms and found myself just drinking in everything Lyz Cooper was teaching and sharing, she is very inspiring as is the rest of the BAST team. I really enjoyed the prep work you do at home, there were so many interesting self reflective exercises and experiential activities, after a few months I started to feel like I was living what the course was teaching, I started to notice the unitive field of sound as well as the ebb and flow within it, very cool! The course also really helped me get over my tendency to overthink things, which can really block you and overcoming this also helped me help others when doing the groups.
Now that I have qualified I feel proud to have studied at BAST and feel a bit like a pioneer like the team. I want to bring Group Voice Arts therapy into places where there is a need for new tools to help people connect and open to a more expansive idea of who they are, using their voices creatively makes everything lighter and more joyful!