The Therapeutic Power of Drumming

by Christine K. Stevens, MSW, M.A., MT-BC

Group drumming is a powerful music-making experience that is used as a therapeutic intervention for achieving health-oriented, non-musical goals. In a drum circle, participants experience both the creation of group rhythms and a sense of community. This outline presents a summary of a paper detailing the theoretical underpinnings of drumming as an effective therapy.

Therapeutic Element           

Mechanism for Change
Drumming is accessible. Drumming provides successful and inclusive experiences.
Drumming is aesthetic. Drumming involves the interactive creation of beauty.
Drumming is expressive. Drumming is a nonverbal mechanism for affective modulation.
Drumming is physical. Drumming requires psychomotor coordination.
Drumming is powerful. Drumming connects us to primal archetypes.
Drumming is communicative. Drumming allows for the purposeful transfer of ideas.
Drumming is metasocial. Drumming creates social
Drumming is cognitive. Drumming requires perception, attention, and memory.

Stevens, C.K., & Burt, J. W. Drum circles: Theory and application in the mental health treatment continuum.