Join Rob Jacoby MS, LPCS, at his Counseling Office in Asheville, NC as he discusses Handpans, Equine Therapy and EMDR in his work.
Filmed by Asheville Film & Video
My name is Rob Jacoby.
I’m a licensed professional counselor here in Asheville, North Carolina. I’ve been practicing therapy for about 21, 22 years and I’ve had the privilege of really having every kind of position you can in mental health. I’ve done things like gang violence prevention working in maximum-security prisons, intensive in-home psychiatric residential treatment facilities; just finished seven years in a residential treatment center for adolescent females specializing in attachment and trauma; private practice; so a little bit of everything. Modalities I use in my practice are talk therapy, didactic therapy, a big fan of equine assisted psychotherapy using horses as a part of an experience process, other experiential therapies and just recently getting heavily into EMDR which is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing as well as some brain spotting that’s coming up here on the horizon.
Drumming and Psychology
So using the Saraz Handpan was an easy transition. Drumming has always been a big part of therapy for me. I’ve always had drums in the office, rain sticks, didgeridoos but drumming has just always been a great way to get clients out of their head and explore different things, connect, and regulate emotions. There’s a couple different ways that I use the Saraz. Some of those ways are regulating emotions but if I’ve got a client that is dis regulated, just getting them a little off of their train of thought. I use EMDR for the installation process and sometimes just as a great way to connect with clients if you’re just getting to know each other. Drumming is a great way to get people into their hearts. One of the things that we have found that heals trauma is to experience things that are rhythmic, predictable, and consistent patterns. Just like when a baby is crying, you see a mother will pick the baby up, or the father, and rock it and then that soothes the baby. What you’re doing is you’re giving the system something that’s rhythmic, predictable, and consistent much like a drum does when you’re playing. The Saraz Handpan, it can get you out of a place of fight – flight – freeze into a very different place of being open emotionally.
EMDR and Hand Pan
In EMDR, there’s two areas that the hanpan is really beneficial. The container portion where you have the client actually make a safe container in their head and in doing so what you’re doing is, as we call it, “tapping it in”. So you’re tapping on your knees or on the shoulders in a very slow rhythmic fashion and what that does is it really brings the images and the emotions into your entire system after you do some reprocessing during the EMDR, which is a faster pace. Then at the end what we do is called “installation” and that’s when we are literally installing positive thoughts into the person’s mind and in doing that instead of just tapping, we use the Saraz Handpan because it just brings another whole level of music. The experience of the acquisition makeup is very different when you’ve got music.
Experiences with Saraz
The Saraz Handpan kind of showed up in different areas of working with clients especially over the last couple of years. One in particular, I had a student client who really struggled with self judgment, just expressing herself. We thought it was a good idea to take the Saraz Handpan down to the pasture with the horses and combine a little bit of equine assisted psychotherapy with some music and what unfolded was pretty amazing. She went out, sat on a rock right in the pasture. I just challenged her to take the drum and just play and don’t think about anything. With the Saraz Handpan, it’s amazing because you’re not gonna hit a wrong note and she already had a piano background. As she got lost in the music, the horse came right up to her and just put its face about a foot and a half away from her and then she kind of looked up and realized that she got lost in the music. After that session, she was able to say that was the first time that she could connect with music without feeling judged or without judging herself. That just opened up a different path of therapy mindfulness and that experiential feeling to really experience what it means to just go with the flow instead of talking about it. That’s priceless. You can’t find that in the office talking about those things. It was really in the middle of that session that I realized that it wasn’t just a drum, that it really became more than music.
Music as Therapy
In being a therapist for over 20 years, I often times forget the anxiety that clients have coming into the office… not sure what to expect and how intense are things gonna be. So to kind of break the ice and pull the Saraz out and focus on music, which I consider to be the universal language, it really sets the stage that yeah, we’re gonna do some therapy and we might talk about some intense things but it doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun along the way.
Most recently I had a client who was diagnosed on the autism Asperger’s spectrum. Before we figured out what the diagnosis was, there was a lot of miscommunication. It was really difficult to connect with this one particular student and then as soon as I found out that they had a background in playing piano, we quickly shifted gears and gave her the Saraz. It was within a few minutes after she started playing the drum that the conversation just flowed. It took the pressure off of the therapeutic intensity that we’re gonna talk about feelings to let’s just go ahead and talk about music. Feelings came shortly thereafter.
I can ask clients all day how they feel and they’re gonna try to use some English words to hone in on the emotion that they’re having. You put a Saraz in their lap and then ask them to play the emotion that they’re having and it’s pretty clear what it is that they’re feeling. The music itself surpasses any terms or words that they have for what’s happening in their heart.
I’m really thrilled to be able to be in the heart of Asheville North Carolina. Amazing community! Amazing town! People are amazing as well. To be able to offer private practice services doing something that I’ve been doing for my entire career and that I love. It’s really just kind of nice to bring the Saraz into it.
You can find me online at RobertJacobyAsheville.com That’s got information about myself, my services and contact info is there. I really believe that the Saraz Hanpan is just an incredible instrument of emotion. The way that we can express emotion typically is through our words. We can convey to someone how we feel by telling them. We can give them a hug. That’s a great way to convey emotion but in a session where I just start working with a client, it’s great to have them use the Saraz to express emotion and even to just play along while they’re talking. It’s a wonderful tool to regulate emotions when clients are talking about stressful and traumatic events and it really provides a pretty amazing soundtrack to psychotherapy that you normally wouldn’t get.
Huge thank you to Rob (and Danielle) Jacoby, as well as Marc Hennessey of Asheville Film and Video! 😉