Della Molloy-Daugherty is a Foundation Director for the SVF.

An SVF Board Member’s Perspective

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Della Molloy-Daugherty is a Foundation Director for the SVF.

Della Molloy-Daugherty

My name is Della Molloy-Daugherty, and I am honored to be a part of Small Victories. I am a Board-Certified music therapist, and I have provided clinical services to both adults and children with traumatic brain injury.

In 1993, I received my Bachelor’s degree in music therapy, completed a six month internship, and sat for the national Board Certification exam. My first job as a music therapist was with an inpatient, acute neurological rehabilitation program. I worked very closely with physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, and I was amazed at how well active music making – moving to music, singing music, and playing musical instruments – created a multitude of opportunities to target, strengthen, and refine functional skills that the patients were working so hard on in their rehabilitation. Music was stimulating motor responses when a person was not motivated to move. Music was generating speech through singing with a person who was nonverbal.

Since that time in the mid-1990s, we now have a vast body of scientific research conducted through neuroimaging technology which concludes that music is processed diffusely throughout our entire brain, and that our brains thrive on the structure that music provides in order for it to coordinate its complex work. The observations I had witnessed clinically were now validated with scientific evidence. This is a profound notion, as music is something that is pervasive in our society; it is everywhere, easily accessible, and widely accepted as something that nearly everyone enjoys.

I went on to receive my Masters and Ph.D. in music therapy, and have provided music therapy services for over twenty years. I am currently the music therapist at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, where I work with children of all ages. Even after over twenty years as a clinician, I continue to be inspired at the way that active music making engages the entire brain; stimulates emotional responses; impacts our biological rhythms that we have in walking and breathing; allows us to engage in physical activity by playing an instrument, singing, or moving to music; and last but not least, brings people together in a group for a common goal – to make music. It is here that people can feel like they are an important part of a group; that their part is necessary; that they are needed so that the group music product can be made.

Over the past twenty years of working as a music therapist, I have observed how music encourages and engages people in ways that are profound. Experiences in music – playing an instrument, singing, writing music, dancing – allow a person to have a voice, to be heard, to be physically, cognitively, and emotionally active, and to be a valued member of a group. It is my goal to help this organization connect people with traumatic brain injury to arts experiences in their community, and to help share information with our communities about the neurological, emotional, and social benefits for adults with TBI being engaged in music experiences.

Derrick Wright's Rehabilitation

Small Victories-Derrick’s Beginning

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Watch this video of Derrick Wright’s rehabilitation after his TBI.

Derrick suffered a TBI from a 2007 rocket attack when he was working in Baghdad, Iraq.  He had brain surgery, was hospitalized, entered rehabilitation, and attended many outpatient therapy sessions–this video is a compilation of some of Derrick Wright’s rehabilitation.  Since that time, he has celebrated each small victory–and now wants to help others with TBI share in their own small victories through creativity and the arts.


Derrick Wright

The Gray

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The Gray

Primary colors are easy to identify. You know—red, blue and yellow. Even with my vision and cognition issues, I still do a pretty good job of identifying primary colors, as long as they are next to another for comparison.  When they are by themselves, or they are not primary, I have more trouble. Of course, the colors that are easiest for me (and everyone else) are black and white.
Colors are used for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is as analogies for where and how we function. Getting a yes or no answer is just like seeing black or white. Moral and ethical dilemmas are often described as black and white. People who are sure decision makers (or ridged) are sometimes described as seeing the world in black and white. On the other hand, ambiguity is gray. When we are viewing something, the farther away from black or white the image gets, the harder our brains have to work to discern the image.
In our daily lives, when we are operating with maybes and ambiguity (in the gray), our brains and emotions have to work much harder as well. I believe we can all thoughtfully prepare to operate in the gray successfully, so that we can handle just about anything that comes our way. We can stretch ourselves, challenge our beliefs, win our battles, and achieve our victories. I love the color gray, but will be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of operating there because it’s hard. It’s a victory when we can embrace ambiguity, and operate in the gray…Derrick Wright