Thursday, January 19, 2012

Join the growing MT advocacy movement

Since 2005, the American Music Therapy Association 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.

Over the past year, my understanding of advocacy has evolved. In fact, it appears to me like a snowball rolling downhill: growing bigger and picking up speed. Never in my life has the time been more important than now to be an advocate of music therapy. At this point, I am about to leave grad school and merge into the real world. In a few months, I will no longer have student loans to help me put food on the table and hold a roof over my head. In fact, I will be facing down a pile of debt in addition to trying to make ends meet. As I see it, the only way to make it happen is to become a self-promoter.

There are many times in our lives when we must be self-promoters: when we want to get into college, when we want to defend a thesis or dissertation, when we want to get a job or an internship. In developing a career, we must sell what we do. What we do is music therapy. What is music therapy? Why should a person want music therapy? These are questions that we must answer to promote not only our profession, but also ourselves.

Advocacy can happen on a local or global scale. In your community, you alone can spread awareness of music therapy simply by seeing clients and meeting new people. On a global scale, an entire movement has to happen to get the attention of the nation and the world. Luckily, in music therapy, that movement is happening. Last year, I talked about several events that introduced some people to music therapy for the first time. And through the effort of many music therapists, progress has been made to spread the word even further throughout government in hopes to make life a little easier for music therapists. After all, the reason we advocate for music therapy is to create a lasting profession that will improve the quality of people’s lives for all time.

To add to the movement, contact your local and state representatives, read up on what others are saying about advocacy, and use this quiz to help you realize your advocacy style.