Therapeutic Voicework

Therapeutic Voicework

A therapeutic and creative therapy using the voice for self-expression, healing, self-soothing and embodiment

How can therapeutic voicework nourish your soul?

The voice is a fundamental part of human expression and may be regarded as one of the most powerful instruments in the body. It has the unique ability to simultaneously reflect cognitive and emotional states, and is the usual mode of communication for both ideas and feelings . 

Practitioners working in the therapeutic voicework field may work with the physical aspects of the voice mechanism such as speech therapy, voice therapy or perhaps the intersection of physicality and psychology of the voice through voice movement therapy or voice dialogue. Specifically tailored singing classes and voice techniques aimed at lifting mood and self confidence also fall within this field. The healing and unifying qualities of the sound of the voice are the focus of practices such as Japa, chanting mantras and Nada yoga. Nada yoga is based on the understanding that all form in this universe originates from sound and vibration.

Vocal restrictions, both physical and psychological, have the effect of limiting one’s self identity and self-expression. 

As a form of self identification, voice can also be used as a tool to explore the notion of who we are and perhaps to find the freedom in giving voice to the many selves that make up each of us.

Practitioners working in the therapeutic voicework field may be represented under umbrella associations such as the Australian Voice Association or by their professionally independent associations such as Speech Pathology AustraliaInternational Association for Voice Movement Therapy (IAVMT) and Voice Dialogue International.

Benefits of therapeutic voicework

Practitioners working in the more psychologically orientated aspects of voice might provide a platform for freeing and integrating the hidden, unexpressed aspects of the self through the voice. The unspeakable, edited parts of the psyche are given a safe passage to be heard and felt. As such, voice movement therapy, voice dialogue and many tailored individual therapies incorporating the voice may benefit anyone who wishes to enhance their self-expression or simply needs to feel heard.

Voice professionals such as singers, actors, teachers or presenters, as well as anyone who wishes to explore and develop their singing or speaking voice might well explore ways to enhance their voice, through engaging these practitioners. 

A scientific review provides evidence to suggest that embodied music therapies may provide several benefits for children with autism, as well as healthy adults and paediatric populations with neurological impairments. This includes improved communication, social-emotional skills, perceptuomotor skills and behavioural skills.   

The clinical application of speech therapy to both adult and children’s speech pathologies is well researched.  It has been reported in a clinical research study that voice movement therapy may improve emotional regulation, emotional awareness, self-esteem, anxiety and other symptoms related to social dysfunction. 

Therapeutic voicework may assist in relieving symptoms related to: 

  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Brain fog and clarity
  • Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
  • Communication and self-expression
  • Concentration, focus and problem solving
  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • Creativity
  • Mental health
  • Mobility and movement
  • Mood imbalances
  • Speech and language issues

What to expect from a therapeutic voicework session

Therapeutic voicework, owing to its wide realm of modalities, might be offered as one-on-one sessions, or as group therapy workshops. Therefore there is no one way an individual session will typically begin.

Speech therapy might begin with an assessment of your voice, details of any issues you are experiencing, changes in your voice and information about your lifestyle. Your therapist may ask you to do a number of different exercises to measure pitch, volume and sound production. In addition to restoring and correcting full voice function, voice therapy can optimise the voice function, strengthen the vocal folds and provide guidance on protecting the voice from damage.

A Voice Movement Therapy session might start with an assessment of  the 10 component parts of your vocal patterning. This enables your practitioner to have a better understanding of your personal needs, intentions and unique vocal capabilities.

Whilst you may experience benefits from a single session, multiple therapeutic voice sessions are often recommended for real progress to be seen as the way we talk and communicate is habitual and hence requires focus and persistence to change. 

During the sessions, you will learn a variety of tools to use your whole voice for self-expression. This may, depending on the particular therapist chosen, include voice and movement exercises, chants,  imagery, songs, improvisation, creative writing, sharing and periods of silence. The ultimate goal for the practitioner is to tailor a specific program that will allow you to  use your voice to maximum capacity.

Even with voice expression modalities, you do not need to be an experienced singer to participate. Simply the desire to sing, self-express and a willingness to explore what is possible, is enough. 

As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing therapeutic voicework. If you have an injury or other health issue, it is advisable to speak to your practitioner who will be happy to address any concerns and tailor the session to your individual requirements. 

References

Vocal Communication of Emotion | link.springer.com

What is a Speech Pathologist | Speech Pathology Australia

Voice therapy definition | Wikipedia

What is Voice Movement Therapy? | iavmt.org

Introduction to  Voice Dialogue | Hal and Sidra Stone

Overcoming Spiritual Darkness- The Practice of Japa | Yoga International

Mantras Explained | Isha

Nada Yoga | Australian Yoga Life

Voice Dialogue International | Voice Dialogue

Australian Voice Association | About us

Speech Pathology Australia

International Association of Voice Movement therapy | Dive Deeper

Voice Dialogue International | Australia

A review of “music and movement” therapies for children with autism: embodied interventions for multisystem development | Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience

ASHA | Research database and online tools

Voice Movement Therapy: Evaluation of a Group-Based Expressive Arts Therapy for Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Young Adults | Music and Medicine

About Voice Movement Therapy | voicemovementtherapy.co.za