Rhythmic, Patterned Activity Aids Regulation
PEP Greenview art teacher, Devon Fegen-Herdman recently had her high school students make rain sticks for her class. This choice of activity was more than just an opportunity to learn about art. Ms. Fegen-Herdman chose it to aid with emotional regulation. Specifically, the project utilizes the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) strategy of repeated, patterned, rhythmic activity.
“The only way to move from these super-high anxiety states, to calmer more cognitive states, is rhythm,” says Bruce Perry, Ph.D., founder of NMT. “Patterned, repetitive rhythmic activity: walking, running, dancing, singing, repetitive meditative breathing — you use brain-stem related somatosensory networks which make your brain accessible to relational (limbic brain) reward and cortical thinking.”
To make the rain sticks, students began by hammering more than 100 nails into a cylinder, receiving somatosensory feedback with each hammer strike. The next steps, which included taping and plastering were soothing and rhythmic. Finally, after adding BBs and beans for sound, students decorated their rain sticks however they wanted to. The finished products created a soothing sound. Students loved standing in a line and creating a “rainstorm” by rotating their rain sticks one after the other.