Sound Therapy Technique Helps Students Relax, Focus

Sound Therapy Technique Helps Students Relax, Focus
Cedar Chapel Special School teacher Mary Beth Lampan works a Himalayan singing bowl with a student. Submitted Photo

SNOW HILL – Educators at Cedar Chapel Special School are using a new form of therapy to help their students.

Cedar Chapel has implemented sound therapy — the use of vibrations created by various sounds — to encourage relaxation and healing. Teachers shared the practice with Worcester County Board of Education officials last week.

“We’re using these instruments with breathing techniques to calm them, to focus them,” teacher Mary Beth Lampman said.

According to Principal Belinda Gulyas, Lampman and Zak Johnson, a physical education teacher at Cedar Chapel, initially approached her with the concept.

“At first, I told them it was a little out of the box for me…,” she said. “But when I could see for myself how it was working, how it was making such a difference in our children with such health issues, it was a no brainer.”

According to Lampman, teachers are using sound therapy tools such as Himalayan singing bowls to relax children. Typically they run a mallet along the outside of the small metal bowl, creating a gentle sound.

“Sound is vibration,” she explained. “Our ears are made of skin, muscle, hair and bone. They take in the vibration and send it to the brain and the brain tells us what we hear. In reality our whole body is made up of the same things. Sound therapy is using your whole body to take in sound and move you beyond relaxation into healing.”

Lampman said it was similar to the way parents used lullabies to calm cranky babies. The singing bowl can also be placed on a part of the student’s body, during sound therapy. She said the first time she saw sound therapy used, in a private session outside of school, she saw it have an instant impact on one of her students.

“After a session with the bowl on his back he was more upright because the nerves were stimulated,” she said. “He’s in the hallways now with two hands on a walker, this is a child that’s in a wheelchair most of the day.”

Johnson said he was excited about sound therapy because it was a way to help the mind and body.

“Given the population at Cedar Chapel, it’s not always easy to find ways for every student to access healthy decisions,” he said. “We pride ourselves on the ability to come up with ideas to include every student to the best of their ability and I think we’ve stumbled upon a healthy practice that is accessible to all. Sound therapy is a way to model and foster the growth of skills necessary for healthy physical function.”

Currently teachers are using sound therapy to help students with a variety of issues.

“Think about a child with autism,” Gulyas said. “There’s a lot of anxiety about what’s coming next, what’s going on. For children with autism sitting in a regular classroom is sometimes like sitting at a rock concert … It can be totally overwhelming. This can be very, very relaxing, to kind of get students available for learning again.”

Cedar Chapel’s sound therapy program was funded with a grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.