Advocating for Music Therapy: What’s In It For Me?
Just for MT-BC’s…
Advocating for Music Therapy: What’s In It For Me?
By: Jamie George, MM, LPMT, MT-BC
Before I get off on my tangents, and take this blog down a rabbit hole, let me give you a little history on my position here. I am a staunch, unapologetic, constant, and vigilant advocate for music therapy. In addition to serving on the Georgia State Task Force and assisting in passing the Georgia music therapy licensure law in 2012, I am honored to serve and advocate in many other ways at the state, regional, and national level serving the Music Therapy Association of Georgia, the Southeastern Region of the American Music Therapy Association, and the American Music Therapy Association. Some might say that I’m spread a bit thin, but there is reason behind the passion.
In my advocacy work I often hear other music therapists say that they don’t have time to join and help their task forces or serve on committees. I also often hear music therapists say that they need to focus on their businesses and families and just can’t get involved in music therapy advocacy at the state or national level. And I get it. We are all busy. We can get bogged down with life to the point of just getting through the day, the week, the month… but I urge you to look at the bigger picture!
It is often these same music therapists who are vocal about not feeling supported in their music therapy community, or complain that they can’t find good jobs or grow their practices. The question I hear more often than I should is, “What’s in it for me?” Well let me tell you what’s in it for you…. jobs, success, patient access, reimbursement, respect, self-worth, camaraderie, and the list goes on.
We are at a precipitous point in our field. We are growing at a rapid pace, with more and more students choosing music therapy as a major. We have had incredible media attention lately, and we are hearing the question, “What is music therapy?” less and less each day. As our body of research grows stronger and our voices become louder, we can either let this opportunity pass us by and continue to be an underdog when it comes to patient choices in allied health or we can UNITE, EDUCATE, ADVOCATE, and GROW.
How can we develop more jobs in music therapy? ADVOCACY.
How can you grow your private practice? ADVOCACY.
How can you increase patient access to services? ADVOCACY
How can you get your in laws to understand that you have a national board certification and license that defines you as an allied health professional and you aren’t just singing Kumbaya and expecting to get paid? ADVOCACY.
How can you in get to a point in your life where you can go to a party and not have someone tell you that they are a music therapist because they play piano in a hospital lobby? ADVOCACY.
How can you increase your access to 3rd party reimbursement? ADVOCACY.
There are so many ways that you can get involved and your profession and your clients NEED YOU to get involved. This year, CBMT and AMTA would like for you to think about your role as an advocate. Are you a connector, a reflector, or a director? Are you a combination of all 3 or are you none of the above? Bring your strengths to the table and use them for the good of our profession and your community! Kimberly Sena Moore defines these roles below:
“Connectors” are people who are gifted at building bridges by bringing others together and recognizing complimentary skill sets in those that they know. Connectors enjoy creating opportunities for people from diverse background and experiences to meet and interact. The role of the Connector in advocacy is to maximize the human resources available to them and to increase the network for their cause by helping interested parties get to know one another and discuss common interests. It is often the Connectors who are able to establish relationships with legislators or other decision makers that develops them into incredible advocates.
Holding Up the Mirror
“Reflectors” are gifted at taking in information, experiences, and perceptions and—as the name implies—reflecting back the most salient points to those around them. Reflectors often have a knack for diffusing situations by indicating an understanding and empathy for someone else’s position. Reflectors also make great advocates because of their fierce loyalty to their cause. Their ability to see issues from multiple perspectives and then to communicate that to multiple audiences brings all sides of an issue to the foreground for discussion. Reflectors unite various individuals and guide the group to a vision that recognizes the complexity of all issues.
Consulting the Compass
“Directors” are the ones who are able to see the big picture of possibilities that exist beyond the current situation. They are able to assimilate the work of the “Reflectors” and the “Connectors” and navigate a course of next steps based on that information. Directors also gather additional relevant information as they move forward and constantly attend to what course corrections are necessary to get to their end goal. Those who are most successful in this role demonstrate flexibility in their thinking and actions, which allows them to accommodate to various situations that are presented and that often change without prior notice. Directors take a broad view of an issue, projecting out beyond it’s current status or challenge and using an ideal vision or end goal to guide the day-to-day steps necessary to get there.
What’s in it for you? I would like to adapt a very famous quote from a very famous man to answer that question and I hope you remember it when an opportunity for advocacy strikes:
“Ask not what your profession can do for you – ask what you can do for your profession!”