Susan Hale
from: Susan Hale
Category: Voicework

The Inner Landscape of the Voice in Therapy

undefinedOver the years I have helped many people find and free their voices. As a music therapist I have witnessed women who have been silenced by abuse. This excerpt of a private session, used with permission, will give you a window into the inner landscape of the voice and the power of music therapy.

A woman comes for private sessions because of temporal mandibular pain from held-in anger. She describes her jaw and teeth as feeling like cold rock, like a mountain’s crust. Slowly she tells me her story. Divorced, she and her ex-husband share custody of their daughter.During one visit she witnessed their older step-son molesting her daughter. No one believes her. No one will listen to her. She has been silenced by her husband and by the courts. She is told that she is exaggerating. Her response is to hold her breath. If she breathes in there is too much pain. If she breathes out, her words are not believed. If she breathes out she is afraid her sobs can not be contained. She is silenced, powerless to do anything to protect her child who visits the elder sibling on court appointed visits.


Her experience of her voice is either black and empty or sharp. No song can emerge from the anguish of her experience. She cried at not being able to sing, something that usually gives her joy. I mirrored her cries with my voice and encouraged her to continue to breathe and make sound. As she did the blackness inside began to diminish inside her throat. With her permission I offered supportive touch to the front of her throat and the back of her head. She began to breathe more fully.


“Something wants to crack through the cold crust and grow,” she tells me. She voices her  grief, her anger at her ex-husband. She makes a loud “AUGHHH” sound as she explores another layer of jaw pain. I ask her if there is anything in my office that she would like to have with her as she continues to tone. She is drawn to the Indian corn on my bookshelf. She shakes it in front of her like a rattle. The dried corn leaves makes a rustling sound like fire. She stands and shakes the corn and wails. Her voice grows more powerful as she takes a stand against the abuse. As her toning comes to an end, she tells me that shaking the corn helped her with her boundaries. She had felt small against a raging fire within and the sound of the corn husks helps to contain her. As she tones and shakes the corn  she tells me she was also asking the powers of the earth and grandmother moon to help her grow. She feels them protect her and leaves the session empowered.


We all have images inside of our voice that sometimes block us from our full expression in the world. Using vocal toning and imagery we can access this inner landscape, change the terrain, and reclaim our power.

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