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Overcoming Trauma Through Hip Hop

Restoring Self and Community Through Rhythmic Regulation and Social Action

On a spectrum of strategies for the promotion of mental health, ranging from self-care to long-term treatment, the expressive arts and cultural values embedded within Hip Hop can be particularly effective in encouraging self- and co-regulation. Through rhythmic engagement, evoking emotions, and fostering community, Hip Hop based strategies help promote regulation, a more empowered sense of self, and opportunities to challenge trauma inducing environments. As important, these strategies are action-oriented, culturally responsive, and meaningful across all stages of the life course. Focusing primarily on the music, the most popular pillar of the culture, presenters will explore specific approaches that consider and address trauma within pathways to growth and well-being and how it can be addressed with individuals and groups. Through interactive exercises that emphasize both expressive and receptive methodology, presenters will provide tangible resources for participants to experience and replicate.

On-Demand Conference Recordings

Learning Objectives

1) Describe the range of evidence-informed Hip Hop integrated strategies, receptive and expressive, which add a culturally specific intersectional lens to creative arts therapies.

2) Differentiate among the spectrum of opportunities for Hip Hop integrated strategies to help with issues of trauma in a culturally responsive manner, including: (a) treatment engagement, (b) affect regulation, expressivity, and developmental well-being within the therapeutic relationship, and (c) the critical validation and policy advocacy necessary within trauma inducing environments.

3) Compare and contrast receptive and expressive art engagement strategies through experiential opportunities to develop art and analyze art on behalf of positive mental health.

We will teach how Hip Hop music and culture can be responsibly incorporated into the promotion of mental health and processing of trauma.

Presented By

Raphael Travis Jr., DrPH, LCSW

Dr. Travis is a Professor and MSW Program Director at Texas State University in the School of Social Work. His research, practice and consultancy work emphasizes healthy development over the life-course, resilience, and civic engagement. He also investigates creative arts, especially Hip-Hop culture, as a source of health and well-being for individuals and communities. He is author of the book “The Healing Power of Hip Hop.” His latest research, linking arts engagement and well-being, appears in a variety of academic journals and book chapters. The Collaborative Research for Education, Art, and Therapeutic Engagement (CREATE) Lab, at Texas State University (San Marcos, TX, USA) led by Dr. Travis, partners with researchers, educators, artists, and community-based organizations focused on better understanding the educational, health, and therapeutic benefits of music and art engagement. The CREATE Lab has multiple active research projects including studies that build upon the lab’s on-campus music studio. The studio, complete with professional quality music technology, hardware and software, makes constructing, recording, remixing, and other ways of engaging music possible. Research outcomes of interest are healthy development, empowerment, and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Travis is also the founder and Director of FlowStory, PLLC. FlowStory promotes the empowering aspects of Hip Hop culture as a critical tool for learning, growth, and well-being across all ages, but especially with youth in family, education, therapy, afterschool, and summer program settings.


J.C.ā€ÆHall is a Hip Hop artist and clinical social worker who runs the Hip Hop Therapy Studio program at Mott Haven Community High School, a “second-chance” transfer school in the South Bronx. In 2013, J.C. assembled a professional recording studio in an old storage room to provide youth the opportunity to engage in the therapeutic process through writing, recording, producing and performing their own music. The origins of the program are chronicled in the award-winning short documentaryā€Æ"Mott Haven," which showcases the efficacy of this approach in addressing grief and trauma in the wake of a school tragedy. Due to The Studio's continued impact over the years and his advocacy for Hip Hop therapy, J.C. won a national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service in 2020.