Ka-Bogso (Be Healed) – Addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences

Maine Community Integration embraces the use of culturally appropriate music, poetry, and creative arts in coping and healing trauma-affected youth and adolescents. The long-term impact of music and creative arts interventions are demonstrated through research, program development, and practice. In a world that is dominated by news of conflict, violence, and natural disasters affecting millions of children around the globe, there is a need for effective strategies for coping with trauma. The effects of such trauma on both children and communities are deep and long-lasting. Cultural techniques and religious beliefs play an important role in helping communities to recover from trauma.

Sports and games, for example, have been used in numerous settings with individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. MCI will be the first Ethnic community-based organization in Maine using this new comprehensive approach which uses culturally appropriate music, poetry, and creative arts as the main catalyst for both prevention and intervention of the stresses of living in a chaotic environment and disadvantage of having been born into poverty and living in constant and chronic stressful environments. Famous Islamic scholar and teacher, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali – in his Ihya Ulum al-Din (The Revival of Religious Sciences) – wrote that music and singing are spiritual, evoking the truth in one’s heart and soul, which reveal themselves and their contents to only Allah (swt). The human voice affects the molecular structure of the body. Over the past decade, music therapy has emerged as a creative art form that has been used to address stress and coping with survivors of trauma. In a case study of 8–11 year-old children who had survived a tornado in the Southeastern United States, for example, music was used to assist the children in expressing feelings and to help them make the transition back to school (Davis, 2010).

The children created a musical composition based on their feelings about the tornado, enabling them to acknowledge and process their emotions in a healthy and healing way. Memorizing poetry, especially poems that are applicable in some way to the individual’s situation (Petermann, 1996; Kelly, 2014), is also able to elicit non-linguistic biopsychosocial effects in a similar way to music therapy: providing a sense of safety, management of anxiety, and emotional processing, which then serves as a foundation to the therapeutic goal of finding one’s voice—a more coherent narrative—through which to process traumatic symptoms. Survivors of violence have also benefited from participation in music therapy programs. The survivors of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City (American Music Therapy Association, 2011), 33 music therapists provided over 7000 programs to children, adults, and families.

The programs were designed to reduce stress, improve coping, and process the trauma associated with the crisis by drawing on a range of techniques including musical improvisation, songwriting, and singing, sharing stories, and relaxing with music.