1. a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
It's Social Media Advocacy Month!
But wait, what does that even mean--being an advocate of music therapy?
Being a music therapy advocate means that you (as stated in the definition above) publicly support, recommend, and defend music therapy as a beneficial and effective healthcare profession.
If you are a music therapist or someone who is very knowledgeable about music therapy, it means you take every opportunity to educate friends, family, or that guy you ran into on the elevator who asks you why you're carrying a guitar on what you do and how it makes a difference.
If you have a child with special needs who receives music therapy services, and you've been seeing him/her reaching milestones you never thought possible, it means you talk to other parents about the change you've seen in your child, opening that same door of possibility for them.
At GCMT, we've been so privileged to serve families who do advocate for music therapy, who do go out of their way to make sure everyone in the community knows about it, who do help us out in any way they can so that other people can have access to quality services.
There are still so many people who don't know, though.
There are still so many people who think a Board-Certified Music Therapist and the person who volunteers to sing or play piano at nursing homes are doing the same thing. There are still so many people who have no idea that music therapy is a research-based practice. There are still so many music therapists fighting for state recognition and licensure so that people receiving "music therapy" are really and truly receiving music therapy.
Don't get me wrong, here. We honor and appreciate everyone with musical gifting who give of their time and resources to provide music for people in various facilities. Our goal of advocacy is not to be dogmatic or to beat down every person who calls himself/herself a "music therapist" when he/she is actually not. Our goal is simply to educate and raise awareness of who we are, what we do, and why we are different.
So, please. If you are a music therapist, advocate for what you do, not harshly or in a way that belittles anyone else, but in a way that makes them interested in hearing more about it. The last thing we want to do is turn people against us because we were unkind to them in our attempt to tell them about music therapy.
If you are someone who knows and believes in music therapy, advocate for us to your friends, your family, to schools, to the facilities you go to every day. You don't need to give a 10-minute long speech about what music therapy is, but just tell your story. Tell people how your grandmother smiled for the first time in months as a music therapist sang her favorite song from when she was a child, how your sister's pain decreased as a music therapist implemented Music-Assisted Relaxation, or how your non-verbal child vocalized in imitation of a music therapist as they were playing piano. People need to know how powerful and wonderful music therapy is, and you have an opportunity to reach those we can't. Your story matters.
Thank you to everyone who does and has advocated for us. What you are doing has an effect, though you may not see it, and we appreciate it!
Let's all make the most of Music Therapy Advocacy Month, and advocate advocate advocate!