Introduction: Advocacy --> Recognition --> Access
Since 2005, the American Music TherapyAssociation and the Certification Board for Music Therapists have collaborated on a State Recognition
Operational Plan. The primary purpose of this Plan is to get music therapy and
our MT-BC credential recognized by individual states so that citizens can more
easily access our services.
The AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT
Regulatory Affairs staff provide guidance and technical support to state task
forces throughout the country as they work towards state recognition. To date,
their work has resulted in 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed
in 2011, and an estimated 10 bills being filed in 2012 that seek to create
either a music therapy registry or license for music therapy. This month, our
focus is on YOU and on getting you excited about advocacy.
My aim is to help you be a better advocate for music therapy at your workplace, wherever that may be. Some of these ideas are self-evident, but we don't always think about them in terms of professional advocacy. I do not have these in rank order, so you decide what is more important and/or applies to you.
1. Be on time! Nothing is better than clients and staff being able to rely on you to be punctual, even a little early! This clearly reflects how seriously you take your job and the importance of music therapy.
2. Dress the part. Music therapists work in every conceivable type of setting, so there is obviously no music therapy "uniform." But we can all still choose to dress up instead of down. This is just my bias, but even when I was allowed to wear shorts and an un-tucked shirt to do therapy on the floor for the early childhood classroom, I simply never took up the offer. I was at least wearing khaki pants and and tucked in my shirt.
People are making assumptions all the time according to the way you dress, even if it is unfair. In fact, sometimes it may not be enough just to dress professionally. You may even need to go the extra mile and put on a lab coat or other standard piece of uniform. This may seem ostentatious, but at some hospitals, for example, you may be unconsciously or pointedly ignored at a meeting if you are not part of the white coat club!
3. Paperwork. Generally speaking, most people who are around music therapy in action are in awe of its power. Unfortunately, music doesn't translate that well through reports! A large majority of exposure for music therapy will be through our progress notes and reports. Many of the people that read these will have never seen a live music therapy session!
So it goes without saying that every note and report needs to be edited and reviewed. Don't let typos and silly mistakes slip through. Although it can be very difficult to keep up with paperwork sometimes, try to make each note unique and pertinent to each client.
4. Volunteer! No matter where you work, there will be chances for you to do a staff in-service or make a presentation about music therapy. Don't be afraid! Seek out these opportunities, even if you do not like public speaking. When you get your gig, ask for help from the MT community in your neighborhood or on the web. We are here to help!
5. Be creative! Continually push yourself to use improvisation and creative songs and activities. It can be easy to rely on recordings and well-known songs to fill out therapy sessions, and these things have their place. But, we are hired to do what other musicians, teachers and health care workers can't do with music.
We are the ones trained to observe the small indicators that tell us to speed up or slow down a song or add more or less emotional context. Push yourself to make up songs on the fly and try creative rhythmic activities. Ask to be given the most challenging clients and use your creativity to make a difference. This will create job security and expand the possibilities!
--Have fun being an advocate this month and always! After the break, you can take a quiz to see what kind of advocate personality you have. Are you comfortable with the type of advocate you are right now? Or do you want to push yourself to be a different kind of advocate? Find out by clicking now!
Superstar or Behind-the-Scenes Sleuth: What's Your Advocacy Style?
Take the Quiz1. When asked by your state recognition task force if you know whom your current State Senator and/or Representative are, your reply is:
- “Good question.”
- “I think I know, but let me double-check.”
- “Yes, I know the names but not much about them.”
- “Yes, they’ve already heard from me about an issue.”
- I’m on a first-name basis with at least one of their staff members.
- You’re kidding, right?
- I’ve considered writing, but don’t really know how the process works.
- I’ve made contact on at least one occasion about an issue.
- “That sounds scary, but if you give me some guidance I’ll give it a shot.”
- “Do you need me to help train others? I’ve done this before.”
- “Isn’t there another committee or task I can help with?”
- “I’m happy to go as long as I don’t have to do the talking.”
- “I don’t mind sharing, but I want to listen to the CD I downloaded before this flight. Let’s wrap it up.”
- “So far, so good. I hope I can answer all their questions.”
- “Bring on the questions. I love these opportunities to educate!”
- “I wish I’d said I was a dental hygienist.”
- A little bit of a daunting task but do-able, as long as you can confer with colleagues for help and practice.
- An ulcer in the making. Is there someone else that can cover this one?
- No sweat. I love doing this sort of thing and could do it in my sleep.
- This could be fun. I have a little practice with this and welcome the chance to be in front of a new group.
- Recall hearing something about this and are glad for the chance to ask questions and talk about what is happening in the state.
- Want to know about being more involved with the task force or how you can help.
- Aren’t sure they have the right number.
- Are part of the team making these calls.
- Skip past that to find the weather for this week.
- Skim through to get a sense of what issues are going to be “hot topics.”
- Make a note to see what committees your Senator and Representative are on in case they might be able to help.
- Wonder why the writer of this article didn’t cover the healthcare issues with the same depth as the online coverage that you’ve been following.
- Helped create the survey and look forward to compiling the results so you can figure out the music therapy profile in your state. What a great advocacy tool!
- Hope to get around to it in the next week or so but think, “Haven’t I already answered these questions?”
- Complete it right then and sign up to be contacted in the event that they need help with state recognition tasks.
- Delete. No time for another survey.
- Take the lead on writing correspondence to your colleagues as long as you can get some feedback and support from the other task force members.
- Volunteer to be the chair of the task force. You are ready to lead!
- Take on a task that can be done by searching the internet and providing information to help the group’s effort.
- Participate in calls and weigh in with an occasional opinion about what the group should do next.
- Look forward to hearing how that works out.
- Are willing to contact a client’s family that might be willing to share their story.
- Are happy to help organize materials as long as you don’t have to speak in front of anyone.
- Have had your presentation and remarks ready for weeks. Bring on the committee.