Emily Foulkes: Singing for Chronic Pain

Series: Enquiries

Ideas explored: music for health and wellbeing

In February 2019 Emily Foulkes (Director of  Cymaz Music and voice practitioner) led a week-long residency at Snape Maltings to investigate developing a music-based workshop intervention for people living with chronic pain conditions.

Emily was joined at Snape Maltings by Jane Staffieri (Vocal Leader and Sound Therapist), Jo Erwin (NHS Research Associate) Isla McMakin (Clinical Psychologist at RCHT) and for a part of the week Louise Hardwick (Head of Primary Care Partnerships NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group).

The group were testing a holistic approach integrating movement, sound, mindfulness, breath work, meditation, voice and singing. Opportunities to connect body, voice, breath and mind were underpinned by research examing the link between pain and depression and also the concept of ‘dissociation’ between mind and body. The session content was designed to tackle some of these issues as well as improve pain levels, build self-efficacy and increase feelings of well-being.

During the residency, the group devised and tested a workshop intervention with two patient groups, one in Snape and one in Ipswich. A 10-week workshop series has now been devised and is due to be piloted with the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) Singing for Chronic Pain programme as part of their Pain Management programme.

Emily and her team are due to continue their residency at Snape in October 2019 when they will look at developing training opportunities for music and singing leaders to deliver this work.

For more information contact Amy Mallett, Programme Development Manager – amallett@snapemaltings.co.uk.

“The overall support from the Snape team was outstanding. In all honesty I know the team felt quite overwhelmed to be treated with such care and genuine respect, It was invaluable and informative being able to deliver sessions with two very different demographic groups i.e. Ushers from Snape and then the group from the GP Surgery in Ipswich. The immediate feedback from both groups felt very validating and affirming.”

- residency team member