VAHT Presentation Enlightens Counsellors

By Laurence Marie, The Harp Therapy Journal, Autumn 2007

I was invited to give a presentation about Harp Therapy and VAHT in June at the annual conference of the National School Counsellors Association.

The conference was being held in Bouctouche, New Brunswick, a small Acadian village situated on the Northumberland Strait. The location for the conference was Le vieux presbytère, the old presbytery that was converted years ago into an Inn and Restaurant. From its promontory, the presbytery looks down on the Bouctouche Bay and is surrounded by beautiful grounds all the way down to the water.

I was to do my presentation in the upstairs room, which used to be the chapel: a nice large oblong room with vaulted ceiling, windows all around letting the natural sunlight in and incredible acoustics. I was so warmly welcomed by the innkeeper, the coordinator of the conference and the participants (about two-thirds of who were women and one-third men), all anxiety that usually accompanies me dissipated.

This conference was really a retreat for those counsellors. They came to resource themselves, receive a little therapy after a year’s worth of counselling others. Keeping that in mind I had decided I would curtail my talk, keep to the essential and have each one participate in various experiences rather than have just a few “guinea pigs”. So after introducing myself, scanning through the historic of Harp Therapy and explaining briefly about vibrations, resonance and entrainment, we got down to experimentation. We all put our hands behind our necks and we sounded out vowels which bounced off the walls beautifully. Out of 16 participants, only one did not feel the vibrations. I explained how our bones are the sound boxes of our body. Next, I got each one to lean their back and head against the harp column as I played a different tune for each one, which made them feel special. Each felt the vibrations, some of them down to their toes and fingers! Some were astounded, amazed and some were emotionally moved. By then, they were more than eager to try the SomatronTM Mat. Just to give them an idea, each had a turn lying down on it and I played a few short minutes on my 36 string harp. Well, the responses were beyond my expectations. Some people felt the vibrations above the usual “cut off mark” of A above middle C up to top C.

They all expressed positive experiences such as feeling more relaxed, feelings of well-being or less pain. One lady said she had never experienced anything so powerful in her life! One man wondered why he felt the vibrations on the left side of his chest? Upon questioning him, I find out he is susceptible to pneumonias and bronchitis. His last bout was last fall, but the change of season affects him sometimes so may be he had a little congestion. I suggested he consult his medical doctor.

The most amazing testimonial though was from a man of about 45 years of age. After he had laid down on the mat, I started plucking the strings one at a time and straight away I felt something was happening. Then when I started playing it became more obvious but I was not sure so I kept a close eye on him. When he started getting emotional, I stopped not knowing why and not wanting the situation to get out of hand. I gave him time to collect himself then he sat up wiping tears from his face! I asked him what had happened? As a child he had been involved in an accident and even though his right leg was functional it had been numb for all these years. On the mat, for the first time since childhood, he felt sensations in his leg! None of us could believe what we were hearing, what we had been witnessing!

During both the experiencing of the harp column vibrations and the mat, some participants mentioned how my playing for someone else affected them, they now knew about resonance. Some also noted how some people’s eyelids for instance or respiratory rate matched the tempo of the music, they had learned about entrainment. I closed my presentation by telling them about the various applications and benefits of Harp Therapy, I did not need to expand on that!

This was by far my best presentation because of the hands-on experiences for each individual, but also I had a very sensitive, open group, great location and great venue. Each participant did not just hear about “another therapy”. Each experienced the power of healing music and went home transformed by it and will no doubt share with others. I was invited to come back the next day to give private sessions, and I did. As for myself, I came away feeling elated and also more convinced still about my work and journey in harp music.