Here at Music Therapy Kids we’ve been celebrating music therapy all month long! We talked about the different roles that you might play as an advocate. I also shared how those roles fit into my life personally and professionally.
But today!!! Today I am excited because I thought it would be super fun to do an advocacy “round up” of sorts. If you’ve been following along, you can read every advocacy post from this month, by hopping on over to the full project where the lovely Kimberly Sena Moore has listed them all on behalf of CBMT and AMTA.
This past week I spent a few hours digging through these advocacy posts where I found lots of advocacy gems – which of course I am going to share with you today!
On the Roles Played by Advocates
If you haven’t read this guest post by now, please do! Dena Register talks about the 3 different roles we can play in advocacy. This post is the backbone of our “advocacy theme” in 2016. Dena says:
“Connectors” are people who are gifted at building bridges by bringing others together and recognizing complimentary skill sets in those that they know.
“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.
“Directors” are the ones who are able to see the big picture of possibilities that exist beyond the current situation.
What role do you play?
On Advocacy Every Single Day
In her post over at Listen & Learn Music, Rachel Rambach talks about making connections. Every. Day. Her private practice, the super successful Music Therapy Connections, also offers music instruction for typical kids and special learners. Rachel says:
It didn’t take long for me to realize that providing those other services [music lessons, adapted lessons] in and of itself was a hugely effective way of advocating for music therapy. Families who brought their children for piano, voice, or guitar lessons would often ask what music therapy was all about, and they were responsible for the bulk of my referrals. The awareness of music therapy in my community was growing as a result of their word of mouth.”
On Advocacy and the Big Picture
Janice Linstrom from HeartBeat Music Therapy (and fellow Southwestern Region music therapist) has a great perspective on what it is like to be a “director.” I especially love this because most of us bloggers are connectors – I mean that’s what blogs are for right!? Janice says:
Because I’ve held leadership roles, I can see more of the big picture. In hindsight, I now know that when I held other roles that had a smaller scope of responsibility, I was only viewing the situation from a skewed perspective, and not seeing the big picture. But since I have a broad range of experiences (clinician, student, educator, business owner, employee, supervisor, etc), I am more able to see the bigger picture and help delegate and direct others to work towards that. I’ve resisted taking on leadership roles on the task force, but I tend to break down tasks and assign parts anyway, because I’m good at it and because have a vision for that.
On Advocacy vs. Being a Know it All
Here’s my personal favorite. She says:
DO validate a person’s perceived idea of music therapy. Hear me out… the quickest way for someone to shut down in a conversation about music therapy is to immediately negate their perception of our field. How many times have you caught yourself saying “well actually….”? Try to sincerely validate one’s perception before diving into conversation about any misconceptions they may have.
I. Love. This. Sometimes when I read discussions about instances of music therapy misrepresentation, I cross my fingers that the “offender” isn’t reading too. There is no quicker way to turn someone off than to criticize them.
On Unexpected Advocacy via an Ebook
It connected with people I didn’t expect – Originally, I thought music therapists would find the information useful. But, after I posted it on Pinterest, I quickly received responses from pediatric clinics, educators, e-book authors and other healthcare professionals around the world.
On Combining Advocacy with Boldness
Kat Fulton from MusicTherapyEd.com celebrates the big advocacy wins for music therapists in 2015! Can you name them all? Check here to find out. She also talks about how her personal wins have come from being bold. Kat says:
Another piece to the puzzle of advocacy for me is BOLDNESS. Not in a smug or entitled way, but in a contributing and generous way. Many of the connections I’ve made (personally and career-wise) have been a result of a bold phone call, wherein I’ve generously offered help or value to the other party. Those two together – CONNECTION & BOLDNESS – are my favorite combination in advocacy.
How will you be bold today??
On Advocacy IN Our Therapy Sessions
Each of your music therapy sessions is an opportunity for advocacy. What our clients experience leaves an impression about our profession…From their music therapy experiences, clients and caregivers spread the word in our communities.
We certainly can’t forget this. I can’t tell you how many times I have “converted” a skeptic by the very act of that person experiencing their child’s responses in a music therapy session!
On the Seasons of Advocacy
If you are working with older adults, this article is a must-read. Rachelle Norman from Soundscaping Source talks about the different seasons of advocacy in eldercare: the self advocate, current caregiver, caregiver emeritus, and eldercare professional. She shares:
We can all be advocates by using our voices and energy and connections, but depending on your stage and situation in life, your advocacy may look different.
I especially love this article because it is perfect to SHARE directly with your facilities and families. It is specifically written for caregivers and eldercare professionals – not just for other music therapists!
On Advocacy & the Iso Principle
Stefanie Scheffel from SKS Music Therapy takes us back to our music therapy roots and reminds us how the iso-principle applies to advocacy. Just as we meet our clients where they are and gradually move them to a different state, we can do the same when advocating. She offers many helpful hints to help in this process:
We consider the background of the person (or group of people we’re speaking to). Does this person come from a medical background? An administrative or financial background? Is this person an elected official? If a group of people, what is the link that brings the group together?….If this sounds like hard work, that’s because it is! A discussion with your local Congressperson should look very different than an inservice given to doctors at a hospital, etc., and you may have to play different advocacy “roles” depending on your assessment of the situation.
On Keeping the Humor in Advocacy
If you haven’t been to Music Therapy Source lately, you should. Matt Logan, AKA Mr. G.T. Atonal, kept me in stitches with his satirical take on advocacy. You’ll definitely need to read this one through to the end! Check it out now!
On Remembering that Advocacy is Not Just a Job for Music Therapists.
At Music Therapy Maven, Kimberly Sena Moore writes on a topic that really resonated with me. And I know it will speak to you too. When I read her article, I thought YES. THIS. A THOUSAND TIMES YES. She shares:
I would imagine, in fact, that this is a challenge for many professionals. I mean, an occupational therapist doesn’t work on helping one at a job, being a flight attendant means so much more than simply offering complimentary beverages, and what about being a stay-at-home parent? It’s certainly not about day-long relaxing fun with toddlers…
Advocacy requires patience, education, and the occasional reminder to look outside ourselves and our profession and note that we are not alone.
On Advocacy and Taking Action
That about wraps things up. We have heard from many amazing music therapists. They each have valuable perspectives and are all amazing reminders as we advocate for our clients and the profession of music therapy moving forward.
So now what?
I would encourage you to pick just one thing that you can do. (And if you still need ideas, Rachel’s post had a great list!) Now commit to it. And DO it. Note: this is about taking action. Remember, small actions add up to big progress over time.
P.S. If I missed your #MTAdvocacy post, I didn’t mean to. I would be thrilled to add your advocacy post to this round up (if you shared an article in addition to the guest post). Tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add you!