Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Instruments of Healing

Name of Innovative Program: 
Instruments of Healing
Sponsoring Organization
Instruments of Healing
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Andrew Goldenson / Sabrina Schram
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
 Instruments of Healing uses music in combination with peer support to motivate our peers in their recovery from behavioral health challenges.  We have found that collaborative music making  brings about self-esteem, confidence, and a feeling of belonging to a community.  Our programs include instrumental experimentation, basic instruction, group jamming, and sing-alongs. Our unique mobile peer-run, peer-based organization brings a range of professional-grade musical instruments for use during the many programs we give throughout Maryland and the Washington DC area.  Our program offers a unique form of musical peer support that is non-judgmental, encouraging, and supportive.  Peers teach each other, share their skills and talents, listen attentively to each other perform, and bond together over music.  People who cannot express themselves in words are expressing themselves through music and coming out of their shells.  People who never spoke to their peers are talking about their favorite songs together. People who have been afraid to try in life are coming up to our stage, trying out instruments and singing solos for their peers. Instruments of Healing uses music as a means to take behavioral health recovery to the next level.
Creativity and Innovation: 
The creativity and innovation of Instruments of Healing lies in the use of peer support in combination with musical collaboration in our programming.  This unprecedented practice is a highly successful 1-2 punch as an aid to recovery.  Peers teach each other, and share skills and knowledge. We jam together as a group, which can range from novices to professionals - in the same jam!  No musical experience is necessary.  Our participants get to pick out their favorite songs that are meaningful to them, and we provide the lyrics so everyone can sing along.  We provide a collective, collaborative experience that allows people to take a break and work outside of the type of programming they are used to at their behavioral health settings.  Our program connects people, helps them interact in ways they never have before, and shows them they CAN when they have often been told they can’t.
Instruments of Healing encourages the organizations it serves to implement music as part of their programming, as well as purchasing musical instruments for their clients/members.  After seeing how positively the consumers respond to our programs, many of the organizations we are involved with have followed suit.  We have heard amazing reports when we return (we almost are almost always asked to come back) about how many of our past participants are now able to practice their favorite instruments on a regular basis and participate in more frequent music programs.  The regular use of music has a great impact on their behavioral health recovery.  We also talk in our programs about free or inexpensive ways our participants can implement music into their daily lives, as playing and listening to music releases healing neurotransmitters that can help in behavioral health recovery. 
Since our start in April 2012, Instruments of Healing  has served 300 plus consumers, and continually growing.  We currently serve twenty wellness and recovery centers, four psychiatric rehabilitation programs, and two substance abuse treatment centers.  We have built a great relationship with NAMI Montgomery County (MD) and NAMI MD. A strong connection has been formed with the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) where we gave a presentation to staff on Nov 19, 2013.  We have been asked to give another presentation in the spring. We will be filing for 501(c)3 nonprofit status very shortly. This will give our organization the capacity to apply for several more grants and funding opportunities.   Our Board members are currently working on development, publicity, and community outreach.  We are setting up meetings in 2014 to advance our clientele list and further our programming options.  Please refer to our Strategic Plan in Supporting Files.
The model for this program is quite replicable, and has the potential to take place at any given behavioral health setting where peers can gather together for an activity. The program should preferably be peer-run by at least two paid facilitators who are talented at helping their peers to explore their musical worlds.  Volunteers can assitionally be used for set up and take down, instruction, and other needs.  While programs can purchase the instruments needed, quality instruments can also be donated.  The programming itself is very easily replicable.  We have found that peer support happens very spontaneously and naturally during our programs, with little or no prompting.  The participants alternate between intervals of  instrumental experimentation/basic instruction (usually for novices) - and group jamming /singing along to favorite songs (for everyone, with  experienced musicians being showcased) for programming periods of 2 to 3 hours. 
Instruments of Healing has been working with researchers from University of Maryland's School of Medicine Psychiatry Department since July 2013 to form an evidence base for our program.  The method we have been using is consumer satisfaction surveys. (Since we are still a relatively small organization, we are unable to do randomized control trials at this time)  Although a full set of data from which to gather our outcomes will not be available until July 2014, we are able to draw from the information available that Instruments of Healing has been successful in delivering several aspects of our organizational goals and in delivering a high level of satisfaction among our participants.