- Associated Press - Sunday, October 23, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A southwestern Missouri juvenile justice center has teamed up with a university in offering weekly music therapy sessions to troubled teenagers in hopes it improves their behavior.

The Greene County Juvenile Justice Center and Drury University partnered up on the project that began Aug. 1, the Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/2erOkma ) has reported. Another group from a day treatment program for young offenders meets separately with a music therapist on Drury’s campus.

Most of the children in both groups are 14- to 16-year-old boys, according to chief juvenile officer Bill Prince. Each therapy session costs the county $75, which comes out of a fund budgeted toward juvenile mental health, he said.

Prince said it’s too early to say if the effort is making quantifiable changes, but he hopes it addresses the trauma burdening kids going through the juvenile justice system.

“If you got something that the kids are looking forward to and want to participate, I just can’t help to think that we’re going to see some good fruit there in the long run,” he said. “It is really a massive undertaking. It involves reshaping physical structures and reshaping hearts and minds.”

At a session at the detention center, Drury music therapy student Cassie Fox, 32, played the guitar and then led a conversation, gently prompting each teenager to think about how the song related to his own experiences.

Morgan Robertson, with Drury’s Center for Music Therapy and Wellness, said “we use music as a springboard for how to work through problems they’re having” without dwelling on the youths’ misdeeds.

“We’re doing sessions discussing trust and empathy (and) self-worth so hopefully when you have a stronger awareness of yourself, you can make better choices in the future. I’m not treating the ‘why.’ I’m treating the tomorrow.”

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com


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