Charlford House Society

Burnaby , BC

Adopted by participants at 

Let Her Sing

Music therapy can calm anxiety, ease pain, and provide a pleasant diversion during the trying time of early recovery when women are learning how to connect with their emotions and expressing them in a healthy way. It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t feel a strong connection to music. It sometimes reminds us of past events in our lives taking the women back to a good feeling or help them get through different grieving processes. We at Charlford House consider music therapy an essential service, so through this very difficult time our music therapist has been indispensable with keeping the women in our program up beat and keeping the feeling of community going, as we are trying to find the new normal during this pandemic.”

Kaela McCann, Program Manager

Charlford House

Music therapy services at Charlford House consist of weekly hour group sessions and weekly 50 minute individual sessions for alumni and current clients, totalling in 42 weeks. Individual sessions continue to focus on cultivating emotional intelligence and regulation, exploring themes of hope, resource and resiliency, and discovering identity and one’s own voices. Interventions often implemented include lyric analysis, guided imagery and meditation, songwriting, analytical improvisation, and recovery playlists.

Group sessions are aimed at cultivating a sense of community, connection, and expression through songwriting, guess who’s song, karaoke, improvisation, guided meditations, singalong

Individual sessions for alumnae are aimed to cultivate transpersonal experiences, connection with community, effective boundary development, and emotional intelligence through songwriting, mandalas drawing,
singing songs, instrumental improvisation, and guided imagery and meditation. They have also use adapted methods of Guided Imagery and Music to promote feelings of relaxation and safety.


Women overcoming addiction and mental health issues ranging in ages 19-64

How does Music Therapy uniquely address the needs of clients at Charlford House Society?

Music therapy helps clients access emotions which are usually deeply defended after years of numbing with substances. Music allows a gentle, non-confrontational connection with deeply rooted emotions, which then allows the clients to begin to cultivate emotional intelligence, connection with self, and approach difficult emotions without a substance.

Music therapy also fosters a sense of unit and connection in group through songwriting, improvising, singing together, chanting, and listening to each others preferred music. This combats the isolation often faced in addiction, cultivating a sense of common humanity.

How has COVID-19 impacted the program?

Sessions were suspended for one week, a total of 10 hours were cancelled. After the one week pause, they made the move to online group sessions. Now the program is back to in person sessions with proper social distancing.

Thanks to the support of participants from Let Her Sing, we will be able to sustain the 2 hours a week that Music Heals has funded for the past 4 years at Charlford House. These 2 hours a week for 42 weeks enable Charlford to continue to offer group sessions, while the funding provided by Charlford allows for 8 individual music therapy sessions a week.

“When I arrived, I had no hope, I felt my life was a death sentence. I had no idea how to connect with my emotions, let alone understand what they were. All I could recognize was a constant state of anxiety and despair. When I started music therapy sessions, I was able to begin to identify what emotion I was feeling and how I could process it without having to use substances to endure it. [Music Therapist] Rebecca’s compassion, empathy and thorough understanding of the connection between emotional intelligence and music has changed my life dramatically. Today, I know with absolute certainty that I can feel my feelings without fear of them killing me and that I can get through them without picking up any mind altering substance. Today I have hope and feel that my life is a gift.”

Rebecca Barr

Rebecca Barr, MTA has been a certified music therapist for 4 years serving women in recovery, seniors with alzheimers, dementia, adults with acquired brain injury. Her work is trauma informed, client centred and aimed at helping clients meet spiritual, emotional, mental and physical goals through receptive and active music listening and making experiences.

You can help us reach more Canadians with the healing power of music. We invite you to give the gift of music to provide hope, strength, relief and encouragement to Canadians in need.

No contribution is too small!