Counselor’s Choices For Female Singers Whose Songs Can Move You

My daughter had a mini project at her high school in which they had to know what was in the playlist of a professional who would deal with a lot of stress every day. She told me about it over dinner, saying that she was aware that pressure came with my job description as a psychologist and counselor.

I laughed in amusement in response. I did not know that my daughter understood what my job entailed. After all, my clinic was not the kind of workplace where I could bring a kid at all. They could pick me up with their dad sometimes, but they had not seen me in action. If they did, well… that would be crazy.

“So, Mom,” she said, “If I open your Spotify account right now, what will I see?”

Raising an eyebrow at my daughter playfully, I asked, “What would you like to see?”

“My teacher was mostly interested in the names of the artists that you listen to, to be honest. Then, you will pick three that you like best, and you need to tell me what made you like them. Can we do it?”

“Yes, of course. Here are my choices.”

Kelly Clarkson

I had been listening to Clarkson songs ever since she won the first season of American Idol. Back then, her music videos were not as fancy as they are now, but the way she sang every lyric remained to hit you when you least expected it. That’s especially important because she has many songs that many people may not be able to relate to. But once you hear them, you may feel like you’ve experienced what she did. The best example of that is her song called Sober.

When you listen to the song for the first time, it would be easy to assume that it was about people who were battling substance abuse. As far as I could tell, though, Kelly Clarkson did not have that issue.

The song was also applicable if you have been surrounded by toxic people for a long time and only managed to get away from them. So, Kelly being sober and able to pick the weeds while keeping the flowers meant that she got to get rid of those bad influences in her life and kept her real friends.

P!nk

P!nk was among the most underrated pop stars of all time. She had never reached the heights of Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera, and other artists – that’s a fact. But it would not be an exaggeration to claim that she was better than most of them.

The primary reason was that P!nk wrote most of her songs. It was that personal touch that made everything so much better. Every piece was also unique, and each chronicled all the ups and downs that she experienced throughout her life.

Saying that music was P!nk’s therapy would be an understatement. She was very vocal about going to marriage counseling with her husband, and it seemed like she was taking everyone along for the ride with her songs.

My favorite album of P!nk was Funhouse, which was released in 2008. If Kelly Clarkson could make you want to cry, P!nk could make you feel like an absolute badass – like the type of person who would smash things after breaking up with someone. But what I genuinely liked about the Funhouse songs was that they could inspire you to be vulnerable. After all, the lyrics showed many emotions – anger, denial, bargaining, blaming, and everything else that a person would feel after splitting with the love of their life.

I used to tell my clients, “If you can be as vulnerable as P!nk when she sings, your treatment will not take too long.”

Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s songs are different in the sense that most of them are about female empowerment. They are the best songs to play after an entire day of exhausting work, and you need a little pick-me-up to recharge yourself. Whether you are in love, have fallen out of love, want to be in love, or need to love yourself – Queen Bey got you covered.

The best Beyoncé song for me was Love On Top. Many people would ask, “Is it because of the crazy vocals?” The answer was yes, but that was not the only reason. I saw the ascending range as a perfect representation of how someone could feel whenever they see the person they’re mooning over. It’s fast, desperate, and incredibly high. And once the song is over, you could be like, “Wow, what a rush!”

Final Thoughts

My daughter told me she got an A+ for that particular project, and I was happy for her. However, I got more excited when she said that her teacher read her paper for 15 whole minutes and said she would be taking a leaf out of my book and listening to Kelly Clarkson, P!nk, and Beyoncé. I would never know what the teacher was going through unless she would get an appointment with me, but knowing my singer choices could possibly change someone’s life was more than enough for me.

Counselor Says: You Only Need One Song To Improve Your Day

Given my history with depression, I noticed how easy it had become for me to get depressed over a few things.

For example, when I was in the queue at the grocery store, the cashier prioritized a sexy model behind me. A regular person would have spoken up and called the manager, but I felt so discouraged that I left my cart in the middle of the aisle and did not buy anything. I held on to that feeling for an entire day, causing my reaction time to slow down and annoy other people.

There were also days when I would open my eyes, look outside, and see the gloomy skies. I would only need to stare at it for two minutes before feeling too exhausted to go to work. I would bail on all my appointments that day and stay in bed for as long as possible. Sometimes, I would turn on the TV, even though I was not actually watching whatever was on it.

Whenever I would get these depressing moments, my loved ones had gotten quite good at tolerating me. If I backed out of an occasion at the last minute, they never got mad in front of my face. If I did not feel like going Anywhere, they would not push it. However, I could not get the same treatment at work.

A Change Of Tunes

One day, I got called to my boss’s office. She said, “I will go straight to the point. I know about your depression and the fact that it has never genuinely fully gone away. I also know that some things or events can trigger it, but you need to find a way to work around it because it is currently affecting your job.”

All I could do was nod before excusing myself and leaving the room. The last thing I wanted to do was lie, and I would be lying if I promised that I could fulfill my boss’s instruction.

I was so preoccupied with that thought that I bumped into our resident counselor in the hallway. I always guarded my emotions around her in fear of seeing through me and deeming me unfit to work in the company. However, this time, when the counselor asked if I was okay, I blurted out, “I’m too far from being okay.”

“Let’s go to my office and talk about it,” she offered.

I agreed to do it because I felt like I had no other options. I knew I needed help, and only a counselor might be able to help me at this point. There was also a nagging thought that I was already helpless, but I pushed that at the back of my head.

When I stepped into the counselor’s office, an unfamiliar song was blasting through her speakers. It did not sound like a Beyoncé or Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, but I instantly loved how upbeat it was. As I listened more carefully, I realized that a woman was singing about her inner thoughts regarding a man she liked first but had to let go because her sweet sister fell in love with him.

“What song is this?” I asked.

“Oh, sorry, I’ll turn it off,” the counselor said.

“No, please don’t. I like it. What song is it?” I repeated.

The counselor blushed. “I am what some people call a Broadway musical junkie. This song is called Satisfied from the Hamilton musical. I listen to it on repeat when I need to motivate myself to move or think,” she revealed.

“Wow,” I uttered in awe. “I have been dealing with depressive episodes recently, and they have been affecting my work. Do you think it will help me?”

“I would say yes. You can find plenty of songs on Spotify or iTunes, but you technically only need a single song to get you moving. In truth, that’s how I manage to absorb all my clients’ issues and ensure that I would not carry them into my house,” the counselor said.

Listening To Feel

On that same day, I listened to Satisfied again until it was time to go home. I repeated the process from the moment I woke up, and I did not feel my mood dip in those 36 glorious hours. At that point, I had already memorized the lyrics and could sing along with Angelica Schuyler – the Hamilton character. I thought that it would diminish the song’s effect on me, but it didn’t.

The first time I changed my go-to song was when my boyfriend split up with me. But then, I learned that Hamilton had a perfect theme for that: Burn. The more I listened to it, the lesser pain I felt due to the breakup.

I might have changed my go-to songs over the years depending on my situation, but I was always one song at a time. If that is not proof that you only need one to feel better, I no longer know what is.

 …

How A Song From The Color Purple Improved My Mental Health

Coming from a musically inclined family, I grew up watching Broadway musicals like Wicked, Cats, etc. Since our home was only an hour away from New York, it became part of our tradition to drive there during the yuletide season to see an incredible show or two. The traffic was undoubtedly awful, but the musicals made our suffering on the road worth it.

Now, while growing up, my parents allowed me to watch kid-friendly Broadway shows. E.g., Annie, The Lion King, and even Newsies. When I went to high school, though, our family dynamics changed drastically.

It started when Mom found out that Dad had an extramarital affair one too many times while on business trips. My father wanted to make amends, but my mother—bless her soul—practically informed him that second chances weren’t available. Thus, she kicked Dad out of the house and went on to file for divorce.

The perfect life that we had fallen apart within months. All of a sudden, I needed to go back and forth to different houses. Mom had me on weekdays, while Dad got my weekends. I could not complain verbally about this setup, but it made me want to move across the country and stay away from my parents.

Forgetting Broadway

The divorce meant that neither of my parents was willing to continue our family tradition on Broadway. They did not even bother coming up with an excuse; they only said that it was no longer in the cards. Then, I got accepted to UCLA, and my musical-watching days became a history.

Although LA was fun, I felt miserable there. At one point, I wondered if my childhood was nothing but a lie. Were my parents genuinely happy during our trips? Did Mom put up with Dad because of me? Such questions swirled in my head repeatedly for some time, to the extent that I started sinking the depression hole.

I remembered the first time I got drunk. A friend told me that that’s a quick way to forget your worries, albeit momentarily. And when the alcohol hit my system, I understood what she meant. I kept drinking whenever I thought of my problems, which was almost every day. I only realized how low I had gone when I failed all my classes, and Mom coaxed me to go back home.

Seeing The Color Purple

When I came back home, I met my parents at a restaurant. It was the only time they met out of court; even when I went to LA, Dad merely gave me a call to say goodbye. They agreed to be in the same room together because they wanted to do a little intervention on me and ensure that I would not throw away my life before it even started.

In truth, I stopped drinking ever since I flunked at UCLA. I realized it did not help me at all and perhaps ruined my chances of becoming a doctor. But of course, I did not tell my parents that. Instead, I just allowed them to think that I needed this intervention so that I could see them agreeing on something after a long while.

Before the dinner ended, my folks said that I could try applying at NYU. The next day, I dropped in the campus to send my application and walked around the streets to familiarize myself with the location. Even if I wouldn’t get accepted, I thought of looking for a job around the area.

After a few minutes, I was standing outside of a theater where they were doing the production of The Color Purple. I heard about its movie version back then, but I never got to watch it. I had no inkling who Cynthia Erivo was at the time either, but I knew that Jennifer Hudson’s a powerhouse singer. For the first time in years, I was in the third row of a Broadway theater to watch a Broadway musical.

Listening To “I’m Here”

The play took place when African-American women were still oppressed. The main character had been wronged many times in her life, and I felt so sorry for her. Then, she sang “I’m Here,” which blew me away.

There was no way I could relate to the main character’s hardships, but it hit home when Cynthia Erivo sang, “I’m gonna take a deep breath; I’m gonna hold my head up. I’m gonna put my shoulders back and look you straight in the eye.” It was such a powerful part of the musical and showed the actress’s heart. I was already shedding tears silently before I could stop myself.

When the Broadway musical ended, I felt a change of heart. I forgot about our family issues and suddenly felt like going home and hugging my mother. I also wanted to walk around the city with my head held up high—just like what Cynthia Erivo said—and show the world that I was ready to move forward.

 …

My Music Therapy: Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next

I was a tag along during the 2019 Music Therapy Conference. The music therapist was my best friend, Gigi, and not me. I am a skin care consultant, and because I owed Gigi my time, she asked me to accompany her to this conference. At first, I was bummed out when she pulled out the “you-owe-me” card and said, “Come with me to the music conference.” I was like, “What??? Seriously? What am I going to do there?” When she said that she just needed my presence, I understood. My oldest and dearest friend needed my support.…

Music Therapy Is Legit

I am delighted to have attended the 2018 Music Therapy Conference at Capilano University. Not many people understand how we, music therapists, can assist clients through music therapy. Those who do not know of its essence laugh at our face and say, “Hey, you’re ripping us off!” But what is music therapy anyway? Can it help a person with his mental health?…

The Meaning Behind Rihanna’s Unfaithful 

Several songs can put down your souls and lift them up at the same time, and this song has that quality. The song “Unfaithful” is talking about a broken relationship where the girl is cheating on his guy even though she knows that the guy knows about this. In singing this song, Rihanna puts little voice cracks and high pitches that make it more dramatic. She did a fantastic job of interpreting the song. 

“We all know that both sexes are guilty of infidelity and that blame for a broken relationship is not the fault of a gender, but there are several aspects of male infidelity that are more attributable to men then women.” –Katrina Bilhimer, Ma, LMHC

The Hidden Power Of Music

You will agree with me that everyone loves music regardless of race, color, age or gender. One can be observed playing music while driving a car, taking a bath, doing office work and even when sleeping. Music is such a common language that everyone can relate to but will depend on the personal preference of an individual on its genre, singer or words being portrayed by a song. Because of this, singers became one of the highest-paid professions in the world. Do we ask ourselves, “Why is everyone hooked to music?” Does it affect our life or just a plain vice that everyone tends to abuse?…

How A Particular Song Saved Me

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All of us have very different opinions as to how music affects us. However, for me, things are way a little closer to perfection. I always love music as a kid, and until now on my 20’s, I still make sure that I associate my everyday duties with the songs I like. But that is not going to be the topic of this article. Since a lot of people don’t know how music works in rough times, let me share how it changed my life. Because as Daniel J. Levitin, PhD used to say, “While music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to provide an outlet for emotions, the notion of using song, sound frequencies and rhythm to treat physical ailments is a relatively new domain.”

The Mental Health Battle

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Things in my life are pretty much standard. Honestly, I can’t complain because there is nothing to complain about either. I have my family that supports my small and huge life decisions. I hang out with good influence friends. Happy individuals in our community also surround me. With that, there is nothing I can elaborate more. However, though I get encircled with great people, I experienced a strange chill inside. I am not happy and contented with things. I once thought it was something usual because it sometimes goes away and then comes back and goes away again. I didn’t pay enough caution to the mental health side because I am entirely sure there is nothing to worry on the physical state. But then, I was wrong. I get diagnosed with major clinical depression, and it was worse. It is like what Lillian Harris LCPC-C used to explain when she wrote, “So much of mental health work is about giving people a space to be witnessed and held while sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of human life.”

My mental illness got intense, and it tried to make me do things I know I am not supposed to do. I attempted to commit suicide. Note that “Not all people who have thoughts of suicide end up acting on those thoughts. But for those who do, generally there is deep emotional pain combined with a belief that things will never improve.” Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC said. And I consider myself part of that. I pretty much hate everything about life at that time. But then one particular moment, as I was in my room having thoughts on how to end my life, I heard a song. It was entitled “Welcome To My Life” by Simple Plan. The first few lines hit me hard, so I began listening to the whole song. The message was very devastating and relatable that I started crying. The song made me feel more helpless and unworthy. It made me realize that my life sucked. Due to the message it delivered to me, I listened to it again and again. I began to internalize and feel it more deeply. Of course, every line of it hurt my feelings over and over again. But it didn’t stop me because I felt happy emotionally hurting myself.

I Am Saved

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With all the frustrations I am having that moment, I suddenly came to reality. I noticed I no longer feel burdened by something. Is it because I cried my heart out? Well, it doesn’t matter. After one whole day of listening to that song, I realized one thing. My life should be in my control, and my mental illness shouldn’t mess with it. With that moment, I started listening to songs that are hurtful and damaging. And it is meaningful that it didn’t negatively affect me. Instead, listening to devastating music helped me understand the things I am going through with my life. It allows me to manage my emotions and work myself through emotional and mental healing. One thing I will never forget in this experience is to “Give yourself permission to do some serious emotional healing to become your happiest self and remember, it is a process more than a destination.” A reminder from Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD