By Molly Scott © l991

 Resonance Therapy is based on a whole system view of the individual as a resonant instrument and the expanding and interpenetrating circles of social relationship, as responsive to acoustical laws of frequency, wave motion, and harmonic entrainment. In theory, Resonance Therapy proposes a model that offers fresh insight into the therapeutic relationship, synthesizing information and research from the fields of music, acoustics, physics, and the life sciences. In practice, Resonance Therapy utilizes the voice as a primary instrument for modulating energy in personal and interpersonal systems, calling into intentioned focus the body's innate capacity to tune to naturally harmonic states of resonance.  Training methodology employs an extensive palate of expressive techniques for expanding the capacity of the therapist's ear and voice in order to heighten  listening skills, and extend the capacity of the voice to create a resonant environment in which the client's frequency "messages" can be received, held, and guided to appropriate change.


 Resonance Therapy offers a model for working with systems at any level, premised upon the fundamental laws of harmony and the physics of sound and light.  As human beings we are composed of interpenetrating and constantly changing webs of relationship, which can also be seen as vibrational frequency fields; muscle, bone and tissue contain intricate layers and levels of cellular patterning in constant movement. Our emotions are also frequencies, energy messages that can and do manifest in the harmony or disharmony of the bodily function.  Our bodies offer a useful metaphor for familial and social relationship:  the multiple levels of our neuro-physiology depend on functioning communication much as we depend upon the flow of information in our families and communities. A system is healthy and harmonious to the extent that its members work in synchrony, like players in an orchestra. And the system manifests illness or disease when it ceases to be dynamic and falls into a state of unsynchronized cacophony or static dysfunction...the rhythms are off, the harmonies break down, the music stops.


 One working definition of health is the "harmonious interaction of energies within the vibrational patterning of Life systems”. This view assumes that for each person there is a fundamental coalescence of pattern --a resonance--, which we call health and it varies for each person.   In acoustical terms, health is a state in which the resonance of each component of the system is harmonically aligned with the resonance of every other (elbow, knee, eyeball, earlobe).    When the system is functioning harmonically, these parts play with and off each other, like instruments in an orchestra, and we are, literally, "in tune" with ourselves. Our language reflects this condition of synchronized resonance.  We are " tuned in”, "feeling in sync",  " in a state of harmony".  We can apply this perspective to family systems work, observing that the harmonic balance or imbalance of one member of the system affects all the others, and a way to "instrument "(sic) change in the system is to tune the quality of the relational alliances so that energy flows more smoothly through the system. 

Bells and Tuning Forks

An operative concept in resonance theory is the notion of "entrainment” which is defined in physics as the capacity of one vibrating body to call another into frequency alignment. This is an essential component of the principle of therapeutic resonance: that one person  (the therapist) with centered, harmonic intention, can create a resonant field which calls another person (the client) to come into alignment with that person’s own  unique pattern of healthy function. 

 A working analogy in physical terms, is that of a bell which, if penetrating enough in its energy pattern (note: not necessarily big, or loud, but concentrated) can cut through other sounds and call structures of similar frequency to vibrate and sometimes sound. Think of how, in the presence of certain sound, objects in a house will tremble and sometimes ring. The most common analogy in physics is the simple acoustical demonstration with two tuning forks, composed of the same materials and calibrated to the same frequency. When one is struck and sounds in the other's presence, the unstruck tuning fork will play the same note.

Sympathetic  Resonance and entrainment

 Resonance therapy is predicated upon the basic theory that we are tuning forks that we are resonant instruments capable of tuning ourselves and each other by consciously controlling and aligning our frequencies to synchronize with another's. Therapy occurs when one of us creates a frequency field, an  environment in which the other or others, can come into alignment.  Using a waveform model, I suggest that no communication (understanding, education, healing) can happen until the two components of the energy transfer are harmonically aligned. Think of the tuning fork analogy:  one tuning fork --the client-- a problem, dysfunction, as a psycho-emotional frequency. The other tuning fork -- the therapist -- first simply receives this message.  She is able to do this, to the degree that she embodies and can contain the frequency messages-- the resonance--of the client's condition. We call it “empathy”.  In musical terminology it’s called sympathetic resonance. Therapy lies in the capacity of the therapist to calibrate herself to instrument the client’s changes according to the client’s own needs, their own resonance pattern.  The success of the interaction relies upon the capacity of the therapist to come from a centered resonance, a condition of self--knowing and empathetic flexibility, which allows her to tune in to the clients essential healthy pattern and provide a field for change.

 A successful intervention, then, could be defined as when the therapist creates a field energy in which this alignment with the client "happens" and change occurs.  Late in his life Carl Rogers spoke about this therapeutic environment in his own practice. He noticed that when things went well in a session it seemed to be as much a factor of how he was feeling that day– of his own state of being – as of what he did or did not say or do with the client. Every therapist, indeed every teacher, healer, friend, lover, parent, and child, knows the feeling quality of this kind of interchange. It is an inter--change  and it could be graphed acoustically.  It occurs when the interacting waves are in harmonic synchrony: they may or may not be not be in exactly the same frequency, but they are in harmonic relationship within the template of the naturally occurring acoustical ratios we call the harmonic system.

 The harmonic system is an ordered sequence of naturally occurring frequencies which can be charted arithmetically and extend infinitely. Theoretically all form in our universe manifests in these patterned ratios: the spirals of shells, the wave motion of the oceans, the rings of trees, and the growth rate of plants. Pythagoras, the great musician and mathematician of fifth century Greece, codified these harmonic laws and a theory of the Harmony of the Spheres, which modern science, including the recent revelations of Chaos theory, seems to be confirming. All matter is seen as patterns of vibration and so, theoretically, can be viewed as sound, albeit, outside the range of our normal hearing.  However   we "hear" all over our bodies with our feeling senses which take the measure of our changing environments and move us through the unheard but felt levels of our vibrating, sounding world.

Potatoes and Paradoxes

 Several questions arise here from a therapeutic perspective.  For example, how do we account for change that seems to occur in therapy even when the therapist feels more like lumpy potato than tuned instrument? And what about therapeutic situations which are strategically dissonant, as in a paradoxical intervention where conflict is deliberately courted, the desired outcome deliberately counter-indicated?    I propose that, although therapeutic relationship will always reflect a complex spectrum of inner and outer environmental conditions (time of day, weather, how the therapist and client are feeling) the over lighting principles of resonance apply.  The therapist’s intention to help, consciously articulated or not, creates an energy field synchronized with the client's resonance.  Like a composition in which the tension of dissonance heightens the harmonic resolution, use of conflict or   paradoxical intervention is a strategy to bring the client into alignment. The force of the release rings like a bell tuned to the harmonic ratios of change.  In Rogerian terms, the therapist’s unlimited positive regard for the client), tuned in the first sessions, continues to ring through the changing weather of subsequent interactions. As long as the participants in the system continue to attend to one another, the system is dynamic, energy flows and change happens. When the flow stops, because of blockage and, too much "noise" in the system, then therapy stops as well.

Dissonance and Noise

 It might be useful here to make a distinction between dissonance, noise, and static. A reformulation of these principles from a psychotherapy perspective might define paradoxical interventions as dissonance, and confusion in the family system as noise. "Noise" is disorganized sound without coherent pattern.  Static is noise, which does not move; American Heritage Dictionary defines  “electrostatic "as:” producing stationary charges.” In other words, noise is not resonant; the frequency waves do not travel from sender to receiver but are stuck, static.  Following this definition, we might look at physical disease as well as psycho-emotional impactions as noise in the body/mind. We might say, then, that disease is that state in which the bioelectrical flow of the body's energy systems encounters blockage and the blocked area becomes static, isolated, disengaged from the community and from communication with the other body systems. The same isolation/static/ disengagement metaphor may then apply to emotional distress.

 Dissonance, on the other hand, is the companion of consonance, part of the harmonic flow of a life. As dark and light create a balance within a continuum of harmony, dissonance implies harmony. In musical terms, dissonance is defined as "a combination of tones conventionally considered to suggest unrelieved tension and to require resolution" (ibid.). Dissonance moves the action. It is an essential ingredient in the artist's palette, the spice in the soup.  The therapist uses her palette of resources like an artist, mixing questions, explorations, suggestions, playing the shadow and light, the dissonance and consonance, off each other and assisting the client through the tones and colors of the emerging story. Embodying the principle  of sympathetic resonance, she strengthens the client's capacity to encompass seemingly disparate elements of his life and to bring them into new clarity, a new song, and a sustainable resolution. 


 Another powerful metaphor in Resonance Therapy is that we are highly sensitive receiving and sending instruments, receiver-transmitters who get our information about the world through delicately calibrated assessments of this vibrational soup in which we live. In the last few hundred years in Western culture, concomitant with the rise of scientific reductionism, we have become primarily sight oriented, preferencing ocular information over other senses. The emerging shift toward a more holistic understanding of mind/body interactions may presage a shift towards aural centricity or ear-oriented focus. As we learn to listen more deeply, we increase our capacity to use all our senses in the service of our tuned intention.

 A working analogy for this capacity we have to receive and transmit energy is to think of tuning a radio or television to a frequency sent from a distant sending station. The process requires seeking through noisy static for a wave pattern that matches the receiving frequency template.  The receiver searches and assesses the maze of possibilities to hone in on and amplify the desired frequency.

Following the metaphor, we envision the client-transmitter sending out patterns of frequencies, which we perceive as affect. The therapist--receiver, if her own instrument is free of static and open to apprehend that pattern, picks up the client's frequencies, hones in and assesses them, and, though the agency of entrainment, is able to invite the client's own template to shift to more healthy function.  Once again, the state of the therapist affects the state of the client.

 This is not a power-over or a fix it model. As a musician is responsible for tuning her instrument to play another’s composition, the therapist may be less an originator of pattern than a conduit through which the client's distress can be moved and realigned into his own optimal patterns. The concept of neutrality is central to many therapeutic models. I prefer to think of the skilled therapist as actively transparent, like a conduit of glass receiving the clients energy and sending it back aligned and whole. The therapist, as receiving instrument, must have sufficient experience and understanding --a big enough container-- to hold, align, and occasionally energize the disorganized frequencies of the client, helping focus and clarify them through the agency of her own personal resonance.



 RESONANCE THERAPY AND  therapeutic sounding

 The functioning core of Resonance Therapy is the therapeutic use of the voice.  As we are instruments of and for vibrational communication, our voice is our most powerful transmitting device. Not only does the voice create resonance patterns in our environment, it affects the resonance patterns within us. When we are harmonically aligned, our voices manifest this, and change and charge the vibrational field energy in and around us. When we are ill, wounded, constricted, depressed, our voices mirror that condition instantly, often more clearly than the content of our communication. When we change the fundamental resonance field of the voice, we affect profound changes in the psychophysiology of the person.


A vibrant, resonant voice comes from a vibrant, healthy body.  In a state of illness and disease, the voice cannot resonate freely.  We  "damp" a bell or a similar resonating instrument by touching it and stopping the vibrations from moving through the system. We can think of our own trauma and psycho-emotional wounding in this way. When, because of fear, trauma, old scars and woundings we block the free flow of energy through us, we are damping our bells, cutting down on the area of the vibrational resonance field. We can hear this. We hear the blocked heart, the anxious worrier, the depressed friend.  The voice seldom lies. When we say "but you don't sound well" to a friend who is protesting that everything is "all right", we're not just responding to a hunch. We are making an assessment from very real information carried by the body's mirror--the voice.  Consider the amount of information one gets from voices on the telephone.  We consistently make judgments about the mental and physical health of people we can't see, purely on the basis of their voices. And when we tune our voices, through song, laughter, or other kinds of healing vocal activity, we find, coincidentally, that we "feel better all over".   In this view it is not too simplistic to say that when you heal the voice, you heal the person.

 In summary, Resonance Therapy uses a vibrational template and work with the voice in combination with psychotherapy and other expressive techniques to both assess dysfunction and help clients to come into more harmonious balance.  A strong focus of Resonance Therapy is on training therapists to be open and resonant enough to create a therapeutic field for their clients in which change can occur. 




These descriptions are geared for therapists in family work; however, they can easily be adapted for work with individual clients.  Please note; Describing exercises in sounding is like talking about music; the words are not the experience.  I will outline some techniques and assume the reader will have the opportunity to back up these suggestions with the experience of them.

     Sound/ resonance techniques

Re: Relationship Skills

  • Joining
  • Family connections with each other
  • Comfort level of Therapist
  • Comfort level of Family
  • Transitions (gearing up, gearing down -- aligning resonance)
  • Noticing:
    • voice level/ tone/ texture
    • breath
    • signals from use of voice
    • T's own voice ----use of it
    • Changes in awareness level because of the work
    • How vocal nuance changes environment
    • Consciously setting the scene with voice
    • Pacing, language
    • When quiet, when speaking
    • Awareness of silence --  appreciation of balance with sound

 Workshops Training   include exercises in:

---- Group alignment: working with complex interrelated  patterns (e.g.: families) through sound, breath, silence
----Proprioceptive assessment: reading subtle energy indicators
----Vocal improvisation : being comfortable in formless spaces and developing trust in creatin from the air----Glossalalia: free sounding in non--language ( one of the most important tools for dialogic therapy)
----Toning: work with expanding the range, subtlety, and capacity of the voice and vocal resonance. Expands therapist's capacity to perceive, hold, and  facilitate change in a client's energy pattern.
----Listening skills: heightened awareness and capacity to "hear" and feel comfortable with silence
------Story, and ritual, spiraling out from personal to other levels of  relationship  and community.
------Mask making: masks for qualities and inner voices, masks used in storyand ritual work
------Relaxation techniques using the voice, breath, movement "Giving the body a voice"

    In Session with Families:

    ------Increased sensitivity and noticing of  sound environment,  balance of sound and silence voice quality, nuance, pitch, cadence, and pace relative to affect and relationship with other family members
    ------Heightened capacity to hear and  join with family's language style
    ------Use of vocal nuance by therapist to create bridges and encourage change in family dynamics. Strategic use of the voice can be a powerful tool in effective intervention                    
    ------Use of glossalalia (non--language sounding) , when there are things  that can't be spoken but need to  be expressed.
    ----Family Hum-- based on Chant, psycho physical research on sound and bone conduction, and shamanic practice
    ------Song Maps----using sounding in concert with drawing techniques
    ------Song masks-- use of masks in enactments, where appropriate
    ---- Singing what you need to say, sounding possible futures:  stimulating right brain centers with non--language sounding opens the freedom to  explore with  sound and image,  new realms of possibility closed to  "the rational mind".       
    ------Exploring the emotional memories invoked by well--loved songs from key points in the past
    ------Sound components of other Family techniques: enactments, sculpture,  family drawings,  etc.
    ------Other: What do you notice?