Alternative Title

Role of hip hop therapy in treatment engagement amongst Latinx and Black youth

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type



School for Social Work


Hip hop-Therapeutic use, Music therapy, Hispanic American teenager-Services for, African American teenagers-Services for, Beats Rhymes and Life Inc., Hip hop, Hip-hop, Rap, Rap music, Rap therapy, Hip-hop therapy, Hip hop therapy, Group therapy, Latinx, Latino, Black, African American, Youth, Adloescence, Adolescents, Treatment, Engagement, At-risk youth, Marginalized youth, Urban youth, Youth at-promise, Bay area


The purpose of this study was to explore the implications of utilizing an innovative cultural framework to engage at-promise youth in clinical group work. This researcher collaborated with Beats, Rhymes and Life, an Oakland based organization that has effectively engaged youth at-promise through Therapeutic Activity Groups (TAGs). Treatment effectiveness is evident in the continued requests from mental health providers in community mental health clinics to partner with BRL’s TAG program, youth self-referrals, and youth requests to repeat the program. Based on this, the current study aims to understand what aspects of the TAGs promote treatment engagement- indicated by re-enrollment- for youth that are exposed to high levels of systemic and institutional racism, which can affect their ability to persevere in their communities.

Nine participants, "repeaters" – youth who re-enroll in the program- were interviewed around the San Francisco Bay Area regarding their perspective as to what made the program so appealing. Repeaters were asked to provide insight about three aspects of the program: (1) the focus on hip hop - a culturally relevant form of expression that has ties to historical narratives of oppression and liberation; (2) the ability to choose their levels of disclosure; and (3) the fact that this intervention is offered in a group setting.

Major findings of the study revealed the importance of hip hop in the lives of the participants, the utility of engaging youth through creative forms of expression, and the influence of group format in therapy.




iii, 75 pages : color illustration. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma. 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 56-58)

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