Podcast: A North Philadelphia-based Therapist Uses Hip-Hop Therapy to Treat Trauma

Ronald Crawford (pictured on the right), a mental health therapist based in North Philadelphia, uses hip-hop music to challenge negative culture and educate individuals about drug use. He hopes to engage and encourage people to share how they feel after acts of violence. Crawford and Dr. James Jones (pictured on the left), psychiatric consultant for the Gaudenzia Inc. Together House, talked about the concept of hip-hop psych-ed.

Crawford uses a therapeutic approach that uses rap lyrics and other pop cultural references to meet people on their level.

“My goal is to engage people in discussions and make therapy cool,” said Crawford ,who works with at-risk youth and formaly incarcerated males. “Here I am a therapist and a person who has experienced trauma. I’m saying to them, I’m just like you guys.”

In his sessions, he kick things off  with a handout describing symptoms associated with depression. He also will play a G-rated version of the Meek Mill song, “Traumatized.”

It really hurt me when they killed Shotty
I was locked down in my cell and I had to read about it
And when they killed Diddy, left him out in Philly
We was young and gettin’ money, man we used to run the city
We was rockin’ all them shows, f—— all them —-
And when they killed Darryl, Renee had to see him froze on the ground
Downtown, I can hear the sounds now
When she walked up to that casket seen her son and fell down …”

Jones explained that for many reason African-Americans historically have been reluctant to seek out mental health professionals.

“Some of it is cultural,” said Jones. “Often, it’s because counselors don’t look like the patients they are serving and people assume therapists can’t relate to their issues of chronic poverty and racism.”

For more information on hip-hop psych-ed, contact Crawford at honesty.hurts@yahoo.com.

If you are an adult who is having a mental health or substance abuse emergency, you may go to any of Philadelphia’s Crisis Response
Centers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

Temple/Episcopal Hospital: 100 E. Lehigh Ave., (215) 707-2577
Friends Hospital: 4641 Roosevelt Blvd., (215) 831-4600
Einstein at Germantown Community Center: 1 Penn Blvd., (215) 951-8300
Mercy Hospital: 501 S. 54th St., (215) 748-9525
Pennsylvania Hospital (Hall Mercer): 8th and Locust streets, (215) 829-5249

Please email any questions or concerns about this story to: editor@philadelphianeighborhoods.com

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