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‘Music is a happy place’: Helping Islanders with brain injuries heal

Victoria Brain Injury Society hosts music therapy programs on Mondays and Thursdays
The Victoria Brain Injury Society hosts music therapy programs twice a week. (Courtesy of the Victoria Brain Injury Society)

Victoria Brain Injury Society clients are experiencing the healing power of music.

The society hosts music therapy programs twice a week. The programs are run by accredited music therapist (MTA) and registered clinical counsellor Carmen Eisenhauer.

The Monday program is from 12:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and is the improv and sing-along group. Eisenhauer plays guitar and others bring instruments.

“This group is for clients who really love music or see themselves as musicians,” Eisenhauer said.

“I also provide other instruments. They just like to come and start to make music. Music is a happy place. Maybe a drum has been sitting on their wall for a long time, and they actually get to learn how to play it.”

The drop-in program is held on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. and is more of an entry-level group.

“It’s a place where they can feel safe and free to come in and out,” Eisenhauer added.

“They might come halfway through or might leave after 15 minutes if they become overwhelmed. There’s no judgment. There’s usually nobody who’s trained. I’m able to provide a place for people to learn to play music in. It’s total acceptance. We also get into some pretty big discussions about the different artists we’re listening to.”

Both groups usually have under 10 people come out. Eisenhauer wants all clients to feel welcome at the groups.

“Some of our most musical people are the ones who’ve never played an instrument before. They learn to just listen and play together in a rhythm.”

The programs strive to bring the clients together and get them to feel comfortable in social settings.

“A brain injury is a condition where people are very isolated,” Eisenhauer said. “There’s a lot of depression and anxiety. A lot of mental health stuff comes into play. A lot of people will go into their homes and not want to come out. A big part of the groups is to get them out of isolation and to communicate with other people. It also gives them a chance to make friends and to feel accepted.”

The groups are also educational.

“They learn about brain injuries and about how similar and different they are to other people with a brain injury because each brain injury looks unique,” Eisenhauer said.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Program for brain injury survivors feeds souls at Saanich rec centre

READ ALSO: Brain injury endemic among homeless populations: Vancouver research

Brendan Mayer

About the Author: Brendan Mayer

I spent my upbringing in Saskatoon, and in 2021, I made the move to Vancouver Island.
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