Flashpoint Extra: Philadelphia-based therapist uses hip hop to treat trauma

December 14, 2018 - 4:00 am

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- A Philadelphia-based therapist will hold a town hall session to treat trauma in the same neighborhood where an eight-year-old boy was struck in the face by a stray bullet.  

"Trauma impacts people in so many different ways," said Ronald Crawford, a mental health therapist based in North Philadelphia.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

He's experienced trauma and drug addiction and has been in recovery since the early 90’s. But a few years ago, he says he realized how many people in his own neighborhood needed help.

"But the people that I work with don't do therapy," he said, noting that most of his clients are returning citizens or youth, many of whom have experienced violence.

Crawford says many lack the basic skills to function in therapy, so he hosts town hall style "pre-therapy" sessions that incorporate hip hop music.

"Using the music is just one part of hip hop therapy or hip hop psycho ed," says Crawford, who is also author of Who's the Best Rapper: Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas? “I use an analysis of rap lyrics to teach social skills, when you get people to know these songs, and developed these values, you get a chance to challenge them."

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He says they use the music to challenge negative culture, educate individuals about drug use and to allow people the space to share how they feel after acts of violence like the tripe shooting in West Philadelphia that left eight-year-old Avery Harrison hospitalized.

"In order to function in therapy, you have to have certain skills,” he said. “You have to be able to one, admit there is a problem, ask for help, you have to know how to identify feeling. I teach people it's cool to express feelings and it's cool to cry."

Crawford will head to Cobbs Creek Recreation Center to hold a therapeutic town hall to open the door to healing there.

"Young people that experience trauma, they don't expect to love past 25," he says, "You take risks that you wouldn't take if you planned to live to 60."

For details on the podcast, go to Therapeutic Town Hall here.