When you hear the word ‘sell’, what are your thoughts?
If you’re like many, the word ‘sell’ or ‘salesman’ has almost become taboo.
When you hear the word ‘advocate’, what are your thoughts?
You probably have a much softer initial reaction to the word ‘advocate’. We tend to tie the word ‘advocate’ to a cause… or something worth supporting.
It’s my firmly held belief that the words ‘sell’ and 'advocate' are synonyms. After all, when we ‘sell’ a good or a service aren’t we just publicly supporting its benefits and describing to others how that good or service might solve a problem?
I believe that one way to improve and increase our music therapy advocacy efforts is to ‘SELL” music therapy. For the purposes of this blog I am going to replace the word “advocate” and all of its tenses with the word “sell”. Here we go…
We know how to define music therapy, how to defend the need for increased access to quality music therapy services, how to describe the benefits of music therapy (Advocacy 101). But to truly ‘SELL’ music therapy we have to solve a problem.
As a private practitioner in music therapy I ‘sell’ our services to potential clients. ‘Selling’ music therapy to a potential client is how I can personally increase access to quality MT services. But it is so much more than that. ‘Selling’ MT to a potential client means that I am asking that client to buy in to what we do… literally and figuratively. A successful music therapy ‘sell’ means that the client understands and believes that music therapy is a solution that meets the needs of themselves or a loved one.
Let me tell you a little ‘selling’ story… This past year, I was invited to conduct a drum circle and in-service at a conference for one of our larger corporate assisted living contracts. This company has 5 locations that we serve here in Atlanta. In addition, they are a national franchise and have locations all over the country. Our in-service was for all of the engagement directors from all of their locations nationally. I decidedly spent a great deal of time discussing the differences between music entertainment vs. music therapy, and iPod listening vs. music therapy. I ‘sold’ the benefits of music therapy for their residents. You know the ones: improved memory recall and sense of control, positive changes in mood and emotional states, vocal fluency, increased awareness and attention, and coordinated motor movements and physical rehabilitation… the list goes on.
Since that event I have been contacted by locations all over the United States asking me for referrals to quality MT-BC’s in their area. Now, you are probably saying to yourself, ‘But Jamie, those locations weren’t using your services, so you didn’t sell them MT, you advocated for the addition of MT to their existing programs.’ I disagree. I am ‘selling’ music therapy to the public. I want music therapy to be generally and widely accepted as a standard of care.
Here are some ways that I might ‘sell’ music therapy to a potential decision maker:
SCHOOL: ‘After some research and speaking with your teachers and paraprofessionals, it has become abundantly clear to me that you are in need of age appropriate, fine arts and recreational opportunities of your special needs middle and high schoolers. Your elementary school aged student seem to have lots of options for special services, but your middle and high schoolers are getting left in the dust. I would love to chat with you about some of the programs we can offer your students, such as performing arts classes, adaptive music education, and therapeutic support of IEP and classroom goals.’
HOSPITAL: ‘Research has shown that music therapy-assisted procedures indicate successful elimination of patient sedation, reduction in procedural times, and decrease in the number of staff members present for procedures (DeLoach Walworth, 2005). Furthermore, analysis of the Press-Ganey Inpatient Survey shows that patients who receive music therapy reported overall satisfaction scores that were on average 3.4 points higher than scores of patients who did not receive music therapy (Swedberg & Standley, 2011). I would like to opportunity to present these benefits in more detail and discuss the addition of our services with you, and your physicians and nurses. I am confident that they will support the addition of a music therapy program to your department. At that time, I would be happy to put together any information you may need to present to your administrators and/or assist with that presentation.’
INDIVIDUAL WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS: ‘Listening to and making music is not only an auditory experience, but it is a multisensory and motor experience. Making music over a long period of time can change brain function and brain structure. Neuroscientists are discovering multiple ways that music participation improves executive functions, processing speed, and connectivity of different brain regions, which improves academics and independent skills. In addition, music therapy is a great way to generalize daily living skills and therapeutic goals outside of the school and therapy room. The best part is that music therapy is fun and allows for expressive communication and abstract and creative thinking. Would you like to schedule an assessment so that we can develop some music therapy goals for your loved one?’
Now go forth and SELL it! And stay tuned for our annual Social Media Advocacy Month MUSIC VIDEO!
Are you a music therapist that is interested in learning how to advocate for your services? We offer professional consulting! Click the button below for more information:
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