Therapeutic drumming is an important program for the Youth Villages Inner Harbour Campus, a juvenile residential mental health treatment facility on 1,200 acres just outside Atlanta in Douglasville, Georgia. Landing a hard slam against a tight drumhead is how some young residents battle inner turmoil or uncertainty. The staff say these drum circles are fun but disciplined “safe spaces” where students can be themselves, free of judgement and self-doubt.
Learning traditional west African rhythm, young people address emotions — such as anger — and develop coping skills. “A lot of our kids, who have been through sexual and physical trauma, are disconnected emotionally from their bodies [for survival reasons],” said therapist Tom Harris, who brought drum therapy to Inner Harbour Campus in the ‘90s. “When they start drumming, which is a very physical thing … they start reconnecting with their bodies emotionally in a powerful and positive way.”
This visual piece is the latest installment in Youth Today’s hands-on learning video series.