Alternative Title

Building resistance through hip hop therapy

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type

Mixed methods


School for Social Work


Hip hop-Therapeutic use, Beats, Rhymes and Life, Inc., Resilience (Personality trait) in adolescence, Resilience (Personality trait), Group psychotherapy for youth, Hip hop therapy, Psychological resilience, Resilience, Hip hop, Strengths-based, Culturally congruent


This study explores how hip hop therapy programming promotes resilience in youth. Based in Oakland, CA, Beats, Rhymes and Life (BRL) provides hip hop therapy to 12-24 year olds through their Therapeutic Activity Groups (TAGs). The purpose of this study is to establish evidence of how TAGs improve psychological resilience in youth program participants and of BRL’s effectiveness as a culturally congruent mental health provider. This study is part of a larger program evaluation in efforts with five other student researchers completing Smith College School for Social Work theses. Additionally, this study in particular serves as a pilot of a larger project exploring TAGs as a resilience-builder.

This mixed method study analyzed a short pre-interview survey and a semi-structured interview with seven participants. Findings demonstrate that all youth were positively impacted by participation in TAGs measured by individual/psychological and external/social resilience indicators. Most youth reported enjoying writing rhymes in TAGs- noting it was helpful to them-and feeling that they could share with someone in their TAG. Participants discussed improved perception of their future, self-esteem, and prosociality (less isolative). There were patterns that emerged regarding the overall culture of BRL and TAGs as an honest and nonjudgmental community, as well as one that instilled positive thinking in youth. This research adds to hip hop therapy and social ecological resilience literature. Future research may look to expand the sample population and broaden exploration of resilience indicators not examined in findings, like self-enhancement.




iii, 83 pages. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 56-60)

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