HUNTINGTON — The road to recovery has to begin somewhere, and while it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, Healing Appalachia is making its pitch to pave the pathway like a smooth, sweet melody.
For the past three months, Maggie Moore and Ricky G. Fox have used traditional Appalachian instruments like a jaw harp, acoustic guitar, mandolin and harmonica to lead music therapy sessions at Recovery Point in Huntington.
“We started as soon as these guys were off quarantine and we could be sure that we could properly social distance, and we’ve had about 40 guys coming to work with us and this project,” Moore said.
Recovery Point West Virginia provides several recovery programs to clients across West Virginia at no cost. The organization relies on grants, donations and fundraising to offer programs to individuals in need.
Of course, there have been obstacles along the way, none bigger than launching a new program in the middle of a global pandemic. But masks and all, Moore and Fox faithfully piled their instruments and portable sound system into the back of an old red Jeep and unloaded it at Recovery Point every two weeks to hold the therapy sessions in between other obligations.
Along with the instruments come lessons with one common theme — music — and how those concepts can help aid the recovery process. Their commitment to the pilot program has yielded results far beyond what they imagined.
“It’s working with music as an antidote to pain and finding all the different ways to soothe and expand yourself to create,” Moore added. “It’s been so incredible. I can’t even tell you how incredible it has been for us and those who are coming.”
For the final session last Wednesday, the room was full once again as the couple kicked things off with a trio of songs before asking participants to give them some feedback on the pilot program in hopes of extending it into a full curriculum.
“We are going to continue this,” Moore said to the room before they shared some cake.
The pilot program was built on strategies from “Forward-Facing Trauma Therapy” — a method of treatment that combines components of cognitive behavioral therapy and brain science to teach a disciplined practice of self-regulation that enables a person to navigate the high-demand situations of their lives with intentional instead of reactive behavior. Heavily intertwined with those strategies are a variety of musical elements.
The pilot program was funded by Healing Appalachia, the goal of which is creating a “prosperous Appalachian region free from addiction,” and music is one of the ways they are making it possible.