Random Sample

Rappaport has been an APA member since 1988.

What he does

Rappaport is a private practitioner and psychotherapy book author in Philadelphia who recently released his first rock album, "Hope Running Backward."

Why psychology

As a college senior, Rappaport was in therapy to help him cope with several deaths in the family. Although he hadn't had a psychology course up to this point, he looked at his therapist and said, "Oh my God! This is what I want to do," he remembers. "Somebody really helped me and that's what I wanted to do."

A turning point

About five years ago at age 50, Rappaport was hit by another revelation. He discovered that even though he'd never played an instrument or taken a music lesson, he could sing and write songs. "In retrospect, I think it was a way to express everything I was experiencing as a therapist," he says. "I sit here every day, hour after hour, hearing stories of pain and suffering and triumph and desperation and self-hate and depression and trauma, and I've always kind of felt like I have a need to understand it better."

His method

Rappaport's first song came to him on a walk, when he realized an original melody was playing in his head. He rushed home to sing it for his guitar-playing son, who transcribed it. The song, "Johnny Remains," is a metaphor for the part of the self that struggles to change during the therapeutic process. He's been tuning in to his internal playlist ever since. He'll hear a lyric while in his car, a bridge while walking down the street, a chorus in the grocery store. To remember them, he sings into his iPhone ("I sneak into a lot of alleys," he admits) and strings the pieces together later with a local music arranger, guitarist and producer.

His subjects

Rappaport estimates he's written more than 100 tunes, including "Colorado" about dissociative identity disorder and "Lies to Come" about extramarital affairs. The themes are universal, he says. "When people come up to me or message me and say, ‘This song meant something to me,' that's the greatest part."

Playing it forward

Rappaport wants to conduct workshops to help others tap into their music-making abilities. "Everybody must have this talent somewhere, if you just pay attention to it," he says.

—Anna Miller

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