With the common myriad of challenges facing the youths and the policy makers responsible of addressing them, Tyson (2002) notes that there is need for creativity on how the youths can be positively engaged. Various scholars and the policy makers have admitted and tried to identify a number of challenges that exist in dealing with the youth. According to Alexander (2009), the youth are normally not receptive to the commonly used psycho-education based and other intervention programs. This means that there must be renovated ways through which this resourceful section of the society can be made to be responsible.

With this background information, it is widely accepted that proper use of music can help enhance the existing therapeutic measures. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the significance of hip hop describing the underlining theory, intervention strategies and the empirical validation with a major focus on its clinical application to therapeutic issues of clients. This write up will also examine various interventions aimed at helping the youth through the Hip-Hop therapy approaches.

Introduction to Hip- Hop

According to Hip Hop Psychology Organization (2011), Hip Hop is a modern mainstream, multimodal art-form that encompasses dance, music, lyrics, visual art and culture. The organization noted that hip hop begun in the mid of 1970s. This was in the New York City by a group of young people who felt that they were being neglected by the then emerging European disco. Hip-Hop therefore began as a reaction a nature that it has maintained to date as it is still majorly used for self-expression. According to Tyson (2002), Hip-Hop therapy is a synergy of rap music, bibliotheraphy, and music therapy.  

On the other hand, Tyson (2002) defines Hip-Hop as rap music which provides a way of expressing black culture by prioritizing black voices. He noted that Hip Hop takes a form of rhymed story telling or even poetry. This definition is shared by Paul who defined Hip-Hop as a form of poetry because of its use of rhyme, imagery, and typography in telling personal stories (Alexander, 2009). Kitwan (2002) also noted that even if its origin has caused much contention within the music industry, Hip Hop is derived from a range of rhythmic stories from all over the world especially, Afro-America, Afro-Caribbean and a section of New York inhabitants. According to Kitwana (2002), Hip Hop generations majorly comprise of those born during the period between 1965 and 1984. He notes that Hip-Hop has four original elements including the verbal language in which it seeks the interaction with the crowd, the body language, the attitude and the style or fashion.

According to Potter, Hip-Hop can be described as a form of radical postmodernism because of its liberating potentials of uniting people of various cultures and races (Alexander, 2009). For this reasons, Tyson (2002) has argued that Hip-Hop should therefore not be looked at as a black music. To him Hip-Hop provides away by which individuals from different parts of the globe can converse with one another. According to Walker (2006), there has never been any thing with the potential of bringing the Blacks and the Whites together as Hip-Hops.

Why use Hip Hop Therapy

According to Allen (2005), Hip Hop therapy is widely accepted as a solution to the failed traditional therapeutic approaches that are often ineffective with high risk populations. Allen notes that these initial approaches had failed because they were not designed to address all the challenges facing the youth. Hip-Hop therapy was therefore seen as an ideal and practical tool to help improve the situation. With its emergence, centers which helped in providing youth capacity building programs were built all over the world.

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Even though the utilization Hip-Hop has elicited reactions from a good section of musicians, rap music continuously wins the favor of youths across the world. People are falling in love with Hip-Hop across age groups, race and class. Some of the arguments advanced against hip-hop include its desensitization and glorification of violence, sexism, objectification of women, and navigation of culture stereotypes. Tyson (2002) also notes that not many researches have been done on Hip-Hop because of such negative arguments. He explained that a good percentage of scholars have opposed Hip-Hop based on the argument that it negatively affects the processes of growth and development among the adolescents (Alexander, 2009).

Irrespective of such arguments, Hip-Hop has won favor with a number of scholars. According to Paul, Hip-Hop can provide a good solution to the challenges that are facing teachers today in their attempt to handle students. Paul also notes that Hip-Hop can provide a good channel through which students can improve their critical thinking skills while at the same time maintaining the sense of cultural adherence (Alexander, 2009). Tyson (2002) also notes that rap music has the potential of providing an effective means of intervention with youths of all kinds of cultural backgrounds.

The Underlining Theory

The theory that is often used in this approach of therapy is the Person-in-Environment theory (PIE). According to Delay, the theory is a culturally-sensitive and ecological approach that instills collective behavior which are in line with those supported in the larger society (Allen, 2005). The PIE enables the therapists to focus through all the linkages that affect the lives of their clients. These may include: social, environmental, political, legal and educational systems all which affects the lives of the youth.

The underlining concept of the theory is ‘the goodness-of-fit’. This implies that the theory is more concerned with how the youth can best fit within their environment. According to Allen (2005), the approach allows the therapists to establish a rapport with their clients without much struggle by lowering themselves to the client’s cognitive and social levels. It also presents a means by which the clients are able to utilize all kinds of resources available to them in the environment and thus allowing them to realize their full potential.

How Hip Hop Works

Hip-Hop majorly works by first allowing the therapists to connect with the youths. The therapists then involve themselves in a process in which they seek to work together with the youths in the exploration of the social cultural and the political content of the lyrics. Allen (2005) also attributes to this when he notes that Hip Hop the therapy has evolved over time in an innovative, culturally sensitive technique. According to him, Hip Hop therapy also seeks to work with the already established therapeutic approaches such as the music therapy, Behavioral therapy and the narrative therapy. Tyson (2002) noted that Hip-Hop therapy seeks as its basic component the engagement of the participants to help it in the stimulation of discussion. Hip Hop is also effective in the examining life issues, struggle and experiences in a way that participants experiences as relevant to their own lives. It uses an environmental approach where the therapists seek to help the participants in the own contexts.

According to Alexander (2009), Hip-Hop therapy is majorly designed in a way that enables it to be used as an engagement tool. He noted that it can effectively be used both in psychotherapy and in an educational setting to help high risk youth and young adults. According to Tyson (2002), Hip-Hop therapy uses wide intervention approaches which enable it to be relevant to any racial or ethnic group provided they are familiar with and are affected by Hip-Hop music and culture. Tyson Summarizes by noting that HHT is educational, creative, cultural sensitive, engaging, empowering and therapeutic (Tyson, 2002).

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