I’m sitting in Starbucks with my guitar propped on the table.
I’m wheeling my bag of instruments and visuals into a school.
I’m meeting a client’s extended family, visiting from out of town.
I’m co-treating with social workers, OTs, PTs and SLPs.
Take a moment to think about the many advocacy opportunities that may present themselves to you on a daily basis. On any given day, I can be found working in 5-8 different facilities, homes, schools and public spaces, all filled with people curious about my bag of instruments or with questions about what they see during a music therapy session.
I’ve learned that any opportunity can become an advocacy moment if you seize it. Over the last year, I’ve discovered 3 simple steps that taught me to SEE and INVEST in the many advocacy opportunities around me. These steps have helped grow my caseload, build awareness in the communities I’m serving and established me as a “go-to” team member in the facilities where I work.
1. Engage in the Conversation: Let’s face it–sometimes, it can be really exhausting to explain what it is that you do as a career for the 200th (okay…maybe I’m exaggerating…but we’ve all been there) time in a week.
But the most important thing I’ve taken away from my work in this year is to engage in every opportunity to advocate, no matter how small.
So even if you’re tired, stressed or simply not in the mood–don’t walk away from the mini advocacy moments you encounter every day. Saying “YES!” to conversations with strangers, sharing resources with families and volunteering your time for the occasional presentation can help grow the presence of music therapy in your community…while also growing the work opportunities available to you!
2. Reframe the Conversation: The next time you find yourself in a surprise advocacy opportunity, think about how you give feedback during sessions or lessons. I like to sandwich my constructive thoughts right in between a whole lot of positivity, because this is a great way to help your listener take in the valuable information you’re offering while also commending them for engaging in a dialogue with you.
Here’s my go-to formula:
[Thank You] + [Advocacy Information] + [Follow-Up]
Ex. “Thank you so much for coming to me with your questions! Actually, ______. Can I give you my card in case you want to learn more? I’d love to keep our conversation going.”
3. Continue the Conversation: This is where that positive follow-up comes in. It’s important to tailor your follow-up to your listener’s needs, because knowing your audience will help you keep the conversation alive! Is this a teacher interested in implementing music interventions in the classroom? Or a stranger at a coffee shop curious about your guitar?
- Ask specific follow-up questions
- Give them your business card
- Direct them to AMTA or CBMT
- Provide supporting research
- Connect them with other professionals
- Follow up via e-mail
My challenge for you in 2015 is to seize your next unexpected advocacy opportunity and turn it into a positive conversation about music therapy.
Check out 2015’s Music Therapy State Recognition website for more posts about #MTadvocacy this month, and be sure to read more below about the NEW Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015)!
As the profession of music therapy has been moving forward with recognition at the state level, it has been identified that a document was needed to reflect a similar format to other health care professional organizations’ Scopes of Practice. CBMT and AMTA worked together to create a Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015) for the profession based on published documents from both organizations. This new document entitled Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015) is available as an educational tool and legislative support document that broadly defines the range of responsibilities of a fully qualified music therapy professional with requisite education, clinical training, and board certification. Click here to read the Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015).