Our Freestyle Therapy Cyphers (FTC’s) were developed from a process of thoroughly unpacking the many therapeutic benefits inherent in the activity of freestyling (unplanned, spontaneous rapping).
These workshops allow us to serve a greater number of youth at once, in a highly accessible and less intensive fashion than our flagship program model. The FTC’s allow youth to experience some of the benefits of Hip Hop Therapy without the level of commitment and engagement required in our flagship programs. The fundamental basis of these therapeutic benefits is the rhythmic engagement inherent in the activity. Engagement in repetitive rhythmic processes has been proven to be profoundly effective in the regulation of the brain and nervous system, especially with regards to the impact of trauma and the activation of the stress response. We focus on and highlight this phenomenon throughout our FTC’s in order to maximize the benefits. Another very powerful therapeutic benefit of freestyling is the process of moving out of one’s comfort zone and activating the stress response in a controlled way within a contained and safe environment, which then allows one to slowly build and expand one’s stress tolerance. Another therapeutic dynamic of our FTC’s is the development of a sense of mastery, which allows one to move into a flow state resulting in shutting down the part of the brain that acts as the “inner critic”. Throughout this entire process we intersperse small doses of psycho-education around these and other inherently therapeutic aspects of freestyling, such as mindfulness/present moment awareness, the power of honest self expression and vulnerability, and connecting with peers/community.
In addition to unpacking and exploring these inherent therapeutic dynamics, we also engage the participants in our custom Freestyle Therapy Exercises. These exercises were developed to focus on specific therapeutic outcomes, such as increasing resilience, developing emotional awareness and fostering personal development, self-acceptance, and self-esteem.
Overall, our Freestyle Therapy Cypher workshops utilize an incredibly dynamic aspect of hip hop culture to provide a safe, inviting and inclusive environment for therapeutic and creative self exploration and self expression. The spontaneous nature and engaging format, along with the underlying container of rhythmic regulation, allow for an experience that is highly stimulating, exciting, and fun, while also being culturally responsive, trauma informed, and uniquely healing and therapeutic.