Semper Sound: Military Music Therapy Program

Overview: Resounding Joy and the Military

Resounding Joy‘s Semper Sound Program staff works directly with returning service members and veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), substance abuse diagnoses, and other physical and psychological ailments related to combat stress and trauma.

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Based out of the Health and Wellness department at the Navy Medical Center San Diego, this program focuses on music for wellness, education, peer engagement, and day-to-day integration of life situations through group and individual music therapy sessions.


This program provides intensive rehabilitation and teaches strategies for managing the symptoms of PTSD, TBI, and substance abuse diagnoses. Members of the OASIS program benefit from music therapy methods practicing active and supportive music making, lyric interpretation, songwriting, therapeutic instrumental music performance, and other Neurologic Music Therapy techniques referenced from the Semper Sound Military Music Therapy Curriculum. The main goals of this program range from assisting service members in preparation for return to active duty to providing transitory support in the process of re-integrating into the community.

Camp Pendleton Semper Sound Music Therapy Program:

The Camp Pendleton Semper Sound Music Therapy Program is an 8-week wellness group. It is one of the rehabilitation programs offered by Medical Line of Operations at the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West. Marines are referred by the Department of Mental Health on base and are documented as clinical appointments. Participants engage in the Semper Sound published progressive programming including: songwriting, lyric analysis and completing a personal music inventory. A wide variety of musical techniques are introduced to educate participants in how they can utilize music to identify, process, and appropriately communicate trauma indicators.

Intensive Outpatient Program:

An 8-week closed group for service members experiencing extreme symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) based out of the out of the C5 department at Naval Medical Center San Diego. The Music Therapy component is based on the Semper Sound progressive curriculum that provides client-preferred music wellness sessions. The curriculum is structured to understand ways in which PTSD may manifest including: inability to function, isolation, depression, hyper-vigilance, impatience, anxiety, aggression and emotional detachment. Clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals that work in within the program have observed music therapy group and reported positive findings in the area of communication, processing, and advocacy.

Semper Sound Band:

It is common that service members frequently transfer and transition between rehabilitation programs, bases, and ultimately, to veteran/civilian life. There are few services that are provided by the same organization at each treatment location. The Semper Sound Band was created as a model to ensure continuity and support similar goals of the Semper Sound Military Music Therapy Program through specific facilitation techniques and the neurologic music therapy techniques of therapeutic instrumental music performance (TIMP) and therapeutic singing (TS).  The Semper Sound Band is performance-based and provides reinforcement in the areas of:

  • Sociobehavioral support

  • Group cohesion

  • Engagement in group dynamics

  • Community re-integration through performance-based TIMP and TS

  • Increase awareness and insight of self and others

  • Appropriate communication skills

  • Songwriting and lyric interpretation

  • Music production and engineering

Vet Jam:

Vet Jam is a recreational music-making program offered by Resounding Joy for active-duty military and veterans of all branches and areas of service. Vet Jam provides complimentary instrumental instruction on guitar, bass, ukulele, keyboard, piano, hand drums, viola, violin, and cello. Education in music, music theory, music therapy, and recreational music making are also reinforced.

Vet Jam promotes:

  • Positive coping mechanisms through individual lessons, self-study, and group jam sessions.
  • Social support via military and civilian community reintegration based on the fundamental aspects of learning to play and create music.
  • Expressive practices that aide in increased awareness of both the self and others; and Improvement in overall cognitive and neurological functioning.

Military Family Program:

Resounding Joy’s Semper Sound Program has extended it’s outreach to military families. The Semper Sound Family Program, with support from Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, piloted in December 2012 at Camp Pendleton. The pilot program directly served four military families, 14 individuals. The Semper Sound Family Program comprehensively supports the family dynamic by incorporating music therapy interventions and recreational music activities.

There are three components to family programming:

1) Board-certified music therapists facilitate structured music therapy sessions with the entire family in the realm of active music making, therapeutic instrumental music performance (TIMP), and therapeutic signing (TS).

2) Board-certified music therapists or music therapy interns facilitate music therapy interventions in direct support of appropriate communication, self-insight and awareness of the military family dynamic, emotional expression, and enhanced factors of relatability and identifying among children.

3) Board-certified music therapists and music therapy interns reconvene both groups and have a final group music making exercise that involves processing components for parents and children.

IN SUMMARY, the Semper Sound Music Therapy Military Program embodies the following five components;
  • Semper Sound Progressive Music Therapy Curriculum (published book, 2011)

  • Semper Sound Music Therapy Program (NMCSD, IOP, OASIS, Camp Pendleton)

  • Semper Sound Family Program

  • The Semper Sound Band

  • VetJam- A Semper Sound Recreational Music Module

Check out our Military Music Therapy Internship!