What Therapeutic Model is Used?

The Cooper / Sax Model of Experiential Process

Sound is considered therapeutic when it facilitates and supports any process that moves one toward beneficial outcomes. Examples might include stress relief, pain relief, increased awareness, relaxation, or simply pleasure.

Beyond the immediate positive effects of therapeutic sound , the overarching and longer term aim of Sound Therapy is to bring about a more stable and balanced state. Our world is in a continual state of flux, change is constant, and we are often challenged socially, culturally, and personally. A state of imbalance is the frequent result of a life lived in these complex times. For this reason, sound can be a therapeutic intervention in all manner of circumstances addressing myriad conditions affecting both individuals, groups, and communities and on all levels of being - physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Lyz Cooper and myself formulated a process model of human experiencing on which therapeutic sound (as taught at The British Academy of Sound Therapy) is based. It explains succinctly how sound works therapeutically. We call it 'The Five R's.  

The Cooper - Sax Model of Experiential Process: 'The 5 R's'

Resonance, Resistance, Release, Reflection, and Responsibility describe the dynamic process that occurs when sound is working deeply and therapeutically. A closer look at these 5 'R' s will go some way to understanding the therapeutic process at a subtle level.


Resonance describes the interrelationship between the sound and the receiver of the sound. Resonance simply means that one is responding to the sound, that one has connected with it, and is noticing some kind of relationship. It might be considered as a recognition of Self through the sound. In vibrational terms, the sound has set up a 'sympathetic' resonance within the listener. This indicates that a particular frequency within the sound has 'met' the same frequency in the listener. Resonance is essential to the therapeutic process because without it the sound is simply perceived as background 'noise'. Resonance signifies a relationship and provides the potential for self-recognition.


Resistance is an indication that the power of the sound is working to bring about change but the powerful urge to homeostasis brings up resistance (see Leonard, G. 1991). Change is something wanted but at the same time resisted. One wants to grow but naturally fears change and so resistance is a very natural response as we work with the desire for growth whilst wanting to stay the same.

In a therapeutic context, resistance signposts where to focus for the possibility of change to occur. Resistance is the friend that gently questions the delusions we all suffer from - a friend that is ideally welcomed into the therapeutic space with open arms. Resistance signifies separation and provides the potential for release.


Release is the process of letting go. It is the movement of the seesaw as it returns to the horizontal plane. Release is the surrendering of the positive move towards beneficial change and the consequent letting go of resistance. It is liberating, freeing, and creative as the energy used in resistance is freed up and utilised in more constructive ways.

Release can be experienced in many ways but most commonly as tears, shaking, expressed anger, laughter, and - on the physical level - frequent urination, loose stools, or flu like symptoms. Release is always positive and the strongest indicator that the sound is acting therapeutically. Release signifies liberation and provides the potential for clarity.


Reflection is an essential part of the therapeutic process as it allows us to step back, consolidate our learning, and move forward with greater awareness. Reflection often results in personal insights of immense power and can be transformative. Reflection signifies self-awareness and provides the potential for learning.


Responsibility is the final component of the therapeutic process and an often misunderstood one. Lately in our evolution there has been a powerful sociocultural urge toward holding others responsible for our process. The phrase "you made me" falls easily from our lips. This (believe it or not) is bad and sad news. It turns us into victims and disempowers us. It can make us litigious, suspicious and worst of all, it prevents us from realising the freedom and liberation that arises from the autonomy of choice.

With the mindful taking of responsibility for our own process comes the enlightening realisation that not a single soul can MAKE us feel anything! This may sound radical - and it is - but it is also creative and empowering. As we come to realise the 'lie' of victim-hood there is a parallel realisation of the joy of self creation. Responsibility signifies empowerment and offers the potential for transformation.

Finally the 5 'R' s do not describe a linear process but a dynamic one. At any point during a journey with sound one might find oneself resonating, resisting, releasing, reflecting, or becoming responsible. The model described allows one to identify where one is in ones own process and therefore aims for clarity and the potential for ownership and personal responsibility which, in turn, contributes to human flourishing. 

Created by Clifford Sax