The Touring & Mental Health Manual

The Touring & Mental Health Manual

One our best friends and former 229 collaborator, Tamsin is behind this brilliant project which has now been fully funded by a total legend @livenation 

The Music Industry Therapist Collective was founded by psychotherapist, touring researcher and ex-festival & venue booker Tamsin Embleton. The MIT Collective are a group of psychotherapists in the UK and US who previously worked in the music industry in studios, live events, PR, at record labels, in radio, management and as artists. Since working in the music industry we have all retrained and currently work as psychotherapists specialising in working with musicians and music industry. 

What they are writing

Together with world-renowned experts in the fields of performance psychology (such as Dr. Dianna Kenny – the leading voice in music performance anxiety), nutrition, sleep science, addiction, vocal performance, vocal, ear and sexual health, we are writing a mental health & touring manual to offer practical, clinically sound and trauma-informed advice to all those who tour.

We will help you to identify and address the various psychological difficulties that can occur on, or as a result of touring. We will help you to understand and support yourself, and those around you who may be struggling.

The 300+ page manual will feature practical guidance, resources, psycho-education, diagrams and illustrations, alongside clinical vignettes and tips from touring musicians and tour managers. This manual will help you to improve your awareness, agency and emotional resilience through teaching you how to approach psychological difficulty from a compassionate, informed and understanding position.

Why are they writing it?

Touring can be fun, exciting and deeply rewarding but it can also be lonely, intense and highly stressful. On the road, emotional experiences are amplified and many find it hard to put their feelings into words. Touring pushes the body, mind and brain through a rollercoaster of highs and lows and it does so whilst you’re away from home and the self-care strategies you might usually use to see you through a difficult period. This rollercoaster takes it’s toll. Some people struggle when they’re on the road, some when the bubble bursts and they return feeling exhausted, flat, withdrawn, dejected, questioning their worth or having developed dependencies or addictions in order to regulate or numb difficult emotions and experiences.

As psychotherapists who specialise in working with musicians and industry, we hear countless tales of tour-related difficulties – from drug-induced psychosis to conflict, loneliness, depression, addiction, anxiety, sleep disturbance, post-show adrenalin rushes, amplified emotions, identity issues, relationship problems and post-tour depression (more info below). All of this happens within a high pressure industry where ‘the show must go on’. 

“This is a vital and most welcomed resource for our industry and touring community. Understanding how to look after your mental health and wellbeing, and knowing how to pre-empt and respond to some of the unique challenges on the journey, is a critical to thriving and working sustainably in the music industry” 

Eric Mtungwazi, Managing Director, Music Support 

What topics will the touring & mental health manual cover?

Firstly, we’ll be conducting an in-depth mental health survey to provide some further data for the manual. Then we will address the following issues:

  • Basic counselling skills helping you to open up conversations about mental health
  • How to identify risk and what to do in a mental health crisis
  • How to plan for tour (building self-care into schedules, resources, checklists, touring with addiction and eating disorders)
  • Guidance for tour managers and managers around boundary management, recognising limits, duty of care and compassion fatigue
  • Planning for the post-tour period (what this period can feel like, why we think it’s so problematic, planning for that period, after-care)
  • The impact of touring on the brain, mind and body (the autonomic nervous system, the highs and lows of touring and how it can impact you)
  • How to identify, express and regulate emotions, a guide to emotions, emotions, behaviour and needs, mentalizing.
  • How to identify and cope with shock, anxiety, depression, drug-induced psychosis, loneliness, disconnection & dissociation
  • How to identify and cope with stress and burn-out
  • Advice for conflict management and problem solving
  • How to improve nutrition for stress and anxiety management, performance, disrupted sleep patterns and post-show adrenalin surges & crashes
  • Exercising on the road (how to, where to, why it’s important)
  • Sleep advice for disrupted sleep patterns, hyper-arousal and jet-lag
  • How to cope with eating disorders on the road
  • Safe sex on the road (including consent, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual trauma and assault)
  • Trauma (types of trauma, signs and symptoms, the neurobiology of feeling safe, how trauma can impact behaviour, recognising and coping with PTSD and C-PTSD, dissociation and dissociative disorders)
  • Addiction (underlying factors, link with trauma, recognising signs, managing triggers, co-dependency, sex and porn addiction, where to get help in different territories)
  • Anxiety (different forms of anxiety, the brain and the body; how to identify triggers; how to handle panic attacks; anxiety pre-tour and post-tour; flight anxiety; OCD; financial anxiety; separation anxiety, how to listen to your body and attend to its signals; exercises), coping with and reducing performance anxiety
  • Optimal performance (how to prepare, vocal health, hearing health, post-show care)
  • Identity, self and persona (different perspectives on the self including the ideal self found in peak performances, link between peak performances and trauma, differentiating between a persona and an authentic self, imposter syndrome, working with an inner critic, transactional analysis model, weathering negative press and critical feedback, social media trolling and shows that didn’t go well)
  • Relationships (attachment patterns – what they mean and why they matter on the road, family systems, regression, relational dynamics on the road, rupture and repair, conflict & resolution, touring and relationships at home including advice on re-engaging children)
  • Post-tour care (what happens when the rollercoaster stops in mind, brain and body and how to cope)
  • Resources, further reading and useful contacts.

The manual is an essential step forward for those involved in the music industry (or any other freelance set up), stigma and denial surrounding mental health needs to end and asking for help should be encouraged.

The manual will be moved to pre-sale very soon, so visit http://musicindustrytherapists.com

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