Being of Sound Health’s wellbeing programme is designed to benefit the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of pupils and staff, and support the school’s Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare strategy. It is delivered in a number of ways, dependent on the needs and targets of the school and pupils, through:
- Assessing the overall health and wellbeing needs of pupils and staff with a view of creating a programme of action in response to the findings. Measuring the impact of any interventions
- Practical tools that are modelled and taught to pupils and staff, designed to be used independently as and when needed. They include mindfulness techniques and methods for calming, releasing anxiety, grounding, energising etc. together with experiential Sound Meditations and Expressive Arts sessions
- A weekly Sound Meditation and staff INSET days, to experience and learn tools for relaxation and stress relief
- Group working with parents and carers, teaching the same techniques as those used in school
Evidence shows that interventions that take a whole school approach are more likely to have a positive impact in relation to outcomes.
Sound can be used in a number of ways dependent on an individual’s sensitivity to sound and aural stimulation. This is something that can be built upon over time. Each group session begins with a breath and physical awareness exercise, followed by music making and singing. Pupils explore the sensory experience of vibrations in their body from their voice, Himalayan bowls and percussive instruments. This leads into a space of calming breaths and further body awareness using Himalayan bowls, singing and toning, and guided visualisations. Individuals with more complex needs are ‘met where they are at’, with each session responding to the moment, whilst keeping in mind their overall targets.
Using mindfulness techniques and sound therapeutically is very calming to the automatic nervous system, lowering cortisol levels and slowing the heart rate. The harmonics of the Himalayan bowls, the steady rhythm of a drum, and singing gentle, repetitive songs, have the ability to lower brain wave activity and synchronise the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The resulting harmonizing of the body’s energy system allows for increased focus, creativity, and emotional connection and regulation, reduced anxiety, and a softening of tension in the body – following the same response meditators experience. Sound Meditation is particularly beneficial for people with SEN as they receive the benefits of meditating without the need for following instructions. In addition, therapeutic sound ‘works’ whether a person is sitting, standing or lying down, with the person benefiting even if they are not actively engaged in the process. Just being in the room and within the vicinity of the sound will produce some effect – and often a person will be drawn in over a number of sessions once the unusualness of the activity fades.
Dependent on the capabilities of the group, various techniques are employed to encourage pupils’ social and emotional development. Through the use of drama, music and art, pupils are supported in developing their self-esteem, physical confidence, communication, emotional regulation, cooperation, team work, decision making, creativity and imagination. With guided participation, pupils are able to explore concepts such as friendships, good and evil, courage and their ‘future selves’. Pupils are supported in learning to trust and give expression to their unique voice through their increased proficiency in the Arts.
Who delivers this therapy?
Joanna is a qualified and experienced Sound Practitioner and wellbeing coach of over 7 years’ experience. She has over 12 years’ experience working in the formal and informal education sector KS1-KS4,
mainstream, SEN schools and PRUs, as well as with parents and families. She has an MA in Applied Anthropology, Youth and Community specialising in research methods, and studied for a drama diploma at Questors Theatre, London.