Wed, May 30, 2012 - Page 16 News List

Volunteers use music therapy to heal prisoners
志工用音樂治療 幫助受刑人

Inmates dance to music being performed on a nearby stage for a music therapy concert at the Tihar jail in New Delhi on April 26.

Photos: AFP

A volunteer named Chen Yung-chang called upon his fellow Christians to form a group to help improve and heal the emotions of prisoners battling drug addiction and mental illness. They organized musical activities at Taichung Prison on May 23, leading more than 150 prisoners to sing and dance, using music therapy to ameliorate the emotional issues prisoners must deal with.

When Chen was visiting various prisons a decade ago, he noticed that many prisoners suffered from drug addiction and mental illness, causing a number of problems for them because they were emotionally unstable, and leaving him unable to do his teaching work. It was not until two years ago, when he read an article in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) about a teacher named Chi Kai-ling, who was teaching prisoners how to play musical instruments at Yunlin Prison as a method of healing, that he received inspiration to return to his church and enlist fellow volunteers that had the same aspirations to do music therapy work.

Music therapy is currently used at various prisons, including Taichung Prison and Taichung Women’s Prison, where playing instruments and singing songs allow prisoners to calm themselves emotionally.

Chen says that it is very difficult to reason with prisoners, but when using music and songs you quickly realize that after they hear and sing something familiar to them, it causes positive changes in their overall emotional state.

Chen’s music therapy is so beneficial for the prisoners that Taichung Prison is recommending him as a candidate for the Ministry of Justice’s “unique and superior education volunteer” award.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)


1. volunteer n.

志工 (zhi4 gong1)

例: Millions of Taiwanese serve as volunteers every year.


2. heal v.

治療 (zhi4 liao2)

例: From a very young age, the doctor felt he had a mission to heal the sick.


3. mental illness n. phr.

心理疾病 (xin1 li3 ji2 bing4)

例: Depression, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder are all forms of mental illness.








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