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Therapy affords Optimist residents the opportunity to express
feelings through line, shape, symbol and color.  The language
of emotions is often foreign to our residents who were taught
not to cry, told to "shut up", and left to fend for themselves
while they witnessed the horrors of their youth. 

Art, in conjunction with meditation, photography and
journaling, is used to inspire our residents to give form to
the intangible and abstract emotions they feel but struggle
to articulate. Personal creations are seen as precious and
indelible reflections of their life experience.  The artwork is
processed to express feelings, find personal meaning,
relate to peers, and to reveal that which is yet to be spoken.

Yoga gives our residents the opportunity to begin to connect with their mind, body and spirit. Many
of our residents react either in fight or flight and find many inappropriate ways to numb themselves
from their pain. Breathing, paired with movement, becomes a meditative way of finding peace
and sharing it with others.

For more information, please contact Optimist’s Art Therapist Megan Barr at:

Music Therapy is an innovative and dynamic therapy designed
specifically for the needs of our youth.  Music therapy is more
about the process versus the product as the youth in the
therapy groups set and accomplish their goals using music
as a tool.  With an array of instruments, residents in music
therapy explore their thoughts and feelings and express
themselves in new ways.  They are exposed to different
genres of music through a variety of activities and exercises.

The Song Writing Group teaches the process of putting together
a song.  Youth are encouraged to write about their past, present
and future.  Residents discover their musical interests through
writing assignments and then go on to produce an audio recording of their work.

In the Lyric Discussion Group, the residents select a song to listen to and then discuss the lyrics. 
Being able to choose and hear their own song selection provides them with an environment that
makes them feel comfortable, validated and more willing to open up and discuss their thoughts and

The Rhythm and Drumming Group focuses on helping the residents with discipline, respect, and
cooperation.  By using drums and rhythm instruments, they learn to read rhythm and to work
through anger management issues.  Furthermore, residents improve their focus and concentration
levels by drumming together in a group.  Music assisted relaxation is also a part of this group and
is used to help residents explore positive ways to ease stress. 

Throughout the year, the Optimistics Choir performs for campus and other community functions,
enabling residents to create a sense of belonging and accomplishment as they develop musical
presentations.  Performances provide the youth with an opportunity to face fears, build self-
confidence and step outside of their comfort zone. 

All of these creative opportunities provide our youth with new and positive outlets for their emotions
and allow them a safe place for expression. The music therapy program is a vital part of the mental
health services provided by Optimist.

For more information, please contact Optimist’s Music Therapist Summer Lall atl:

Optimist Youth Homes
& Family Services

6957 N. Figueroa St. Box 41-1076 Los Angeles, CA 90041-1076
Telephone: (323) 443-3175

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