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Co-Writing Your Pain Away

Brave new world 236
Russian-American actress, singer, songwriter and psychotherapist Natalia Lapina became a famous Soviet TV and film star and songwriter at a young age. Whilst enjoying a successful artistic career, she is now she is offering something unusual: psychotherapy using music as a vehicle to help people with severe depression.

When Natalia was 17, in 1980, she attended the Academy of Music, Film and Television of Leningrad and later graduated from the prestigious Musician's Institute of Los Angeles. She became known as the ‘Marilyn Monroe of Russia’ and made her mark by starring in 13 films that were released in Europe, Russia and the States. She also started to write songs and performs as a musician. Amongst many other well-known melodies, she wrote a theme song for "Night Train to Venice" starring Hugh Grant and Malcolm McDowell.

Alongside this successful career as an actress, songwriter and singer, Natalia decided to study psychology and ended up with a doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Ryokan University in Los Angeles. “I wanted to save my mum, she was an alcoholic and I had tried everything.”

During psychotherapy practice, Natalia developed her own methods. “When I lived in America, I basically worked with different kinds of populations. I did my residency in a foundation in Hollywood where we worked with convicted felons as well as celebrities. …It was an amazing school for me. I then worked with VIPs who were suffering from severe depression and addictive substance abuse. I used something that I have used since I was a kid in my psychotherapy – music. When mum was drinking, and there were beatings which would take place as well, I sort of figured out how to escape reality, using music. I would write something – melodies, kid’s songs, I would escape that reality and create my own. Basically, I wrote my pain on notes, and I realized, much later, that this became my therapy. So, when I started working, especially with people experiencing substance abuse, I developed that. …I told them to write down their pain on a piece of paper, and then I would rhyme it, and create a tune, with them. If they couldn’t then I’d do it myself. I would try to get them to collaborate, and then when we had something, I would invite a musician who would help manifest the melody and rhyme that we had created. When the melody, which was already rhymed, matched their pain, the results were unbelievable. It was linked to a cognitive-behavioral approach which is kind of aggressive, but very effective.”

If you want to find out more about Natalia’s music, listen to this radio programme. 

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