Tag Archives: advocacy

#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge: Music Therapy Handbook

26 May

This post is part of a 5 week #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge. Learn more and join the movement by visiting Serenade Designs!

Challenge #4: Pick a current research article or chapter of a book and reflect.

I recently received a hot-off-the-press copy of Dr. Barbara Wheeler’s newest publication, Music Therapy Handbook…and I’m so excited. I just can’t hide it. I love this book! (See photo below for more evidence). It covers a HUGE range of topics in chapters by top-notch professionals in our field. It’s a must-add to your music therapy library.

Photo on 5-26-15 at 11.32 AM #2

Me hugging this book because it’s my new BFF.

3 Handy Takeaways:

Part I: Overview and Issues

Use for: Presentations, Handouts, Websites, Advocacy Work

What’s it about? In Chapter 1, Dr. Wheeler provides a brief summary of music therapy as a profession, from clinical training and populations served all the way to recognition and public awareness. Other must-reads include chapters on music therapy and the brain, ethics, cultural diversity and assessment.

Part II: Orientation and Approaches

Use for: Studying for CBMT exam, Widening perspectives, Clinical Applications

What’s it about? Popular MT approaches covered range from psychodynamic, humanistic and developmental to NMT, community music therapy and music therapy in expressive arts. Think about your current population, and start framing your work in these various approaches. This section got me looking at my work through 10 different lenses—a great way to spice up session planning and in-the-moment creativity.

Part III: Clinical Applications

Use for: Studying for CBMT Exam, Clinical work, Research, Session planning

What’s it about? This section gets into the real nitty-gritty: music therapy with different populations. My favorite part about this book is that it goes far beyond what previous textbooks have covered to include a current snapshot of MT as a profession. New populations include addictions, domestic violence, survivors of trauma, NICU, and grief/loss. Each chapter really provides a thorough breakdown of suggested music therapy experiences with clinical examples. Some chapters I loved were “Music Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder” (because of its inclusion of relationship-based strategies) and “Music Therapy in the Schools” (it provides different models of service delivery and theoretical approaches).

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#MTAdvocacy: Making Advocacy Your Go-To Conversation Topic in 2015

13 Jan

SM Advocacy Badge 2012_250x250

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?

 You could:

  • 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).


#mtadvocacy Month: We Are…Student Advocates!

13 Jan

SM Advocacy Badge 2012_250x250Each January, music therapists from around the world come together to support and advocate for the field of music therapy on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, music therapy blogs and beyond. This year’s project theme is “We are…” and will center on exploring and honoring our identity as music therapists and as a distinct and stand-alone profession, unique from other professions and professionals with which we work. This music therapy intern and baby blogger could not be more honored to participate in this exciting music therapy advocacy movement this year!

This post goes out to all you music therapy students and interns…because I believe that we play a very important role in music therapy advocacy efforts! Today, I want to share with you 5+ tips (and some personal stories from my own experiences) to empower you to be an awesome student advocate for our profession.

1.     Though you may not feel like a professional yet…always act like one!

When you’re out in the community for your practicum work or internship, you are constantly representing the field of music therapy. Dress well, be respectful and leave a good impression of yourself wherever you go. You never know what future opportunities may come of it!

 For example: During one of my practicums at Shenandoah University, my practicum partner and I formed an awesome relationship with our placement site—a fantastic educational group for parents of children with autism called Essential Pieces (http://lfsva.org/essential-pieces/). While the parents meet downstairs and listen to seminars given by local professionals working in the field of ASD, their kids are provided with free services including music therapy, social groups and sensory experiences.

At the conclusion of our practicum placement, my partner and I were asked to return in the springtime as GUEST SPEAKERS to talk about music therapy for children with ASD. How cool is that?! It was such an awesome experience to teach about and advocate for music therapy with the parents of the clients we had been working with for months. If we hadn’t maintained a professional working relationship with Essential Pieces, we might not have been given that opportunity. We were even interviewed for a segment on the local news about the benefits of music therapy!

Me being interviewed by Winchester's local news channel at our presentation about music therapy in February!

Me being interviewed by Winchester’s local news team at our presentation!

2.     Don’t isolate yourself from fellow students and working music therapists.

Reach out and make some new music therapy friends! Think how awesome it might be to talk with music therapists from all over the country (and world)…and how even more awesome it would be to meet them in person at the next MT conference!

  • Be brave and expand your network beyond your circle of music therapy friends and professors. Send an e-mail to a music therapist you admire in your area and ask if you can shadow them for a day or take them out to coffee to talk about what they do.
  • Get to know other students and MTs on twitter, instagram or in music therapy facebook groups.
  • Start a pinterest music therapy board and share it with your friends. Talk about how you might adapt some of the activities that you find or have a pinterest crafting party and make some visual aids! To get started, feel free to share your pinterest page with me! I’d love to follow you and see what awesome MT ideas you’re pinning. Check mine out at: (http://www.pinterest.com/kcorne4/)
  • Go to conferences!

3.     Be aware of what’s happening in the field by reading…A LOT!

I know what a challenge it can be to find time to read for pleasure or to do self-motivated research when you’ve got a mountain of school assignments waiting for you every day.

But who you are as a music therapist is not just where you went to school or where you interned; it’s a lifelong personal philosophy that is always growing and changing.

Stay open minded to variety of approaches and I guarantee that you’ll never stop building your own unique style as a music therapist.

  • Set goals. These could be as simple as reading three articles per month or reading one book chapter per week. But the important thing here is to try to find readings outside of school assignments about different populations, techniques and issues from a range of viewpoints (I know, I know…there’s no time!!! But the extra effort will be worth it, I promise.).
  • Mix it up! Over the past few months, I’ve read books written by teachers and OTs (The Out-of-Sync Child: Kranowitz and Miller), psychologists (Engaging Autism: Greenspan), neurologists (Musicophilia: Sachs). I urge you to learn from related professions and think about how you can adapt and apply these techniques to your own MT practice!
  • Start a MT book club with your friends. Have a pizza party once a month and talk about what you’ve been reading! (Seriously though…any takers for this one? Who wants to start a book club?! :D)
My glorious pile of books to read.

My glorious pile of books to read.

4.     Get involved in advocacy efforts in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

Joining volunteer efforts (whether big or small) will introduce you to your local MTs and keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in your area. As you transition from student to professional, this is a great way to get your name out there and be an active contributor to music therapy advocacy in your state or region.

  • Join your state music therapy task force. Many state task forces have spots for student representatives, but you can also ask for any additional volunteer work they might need help with or if any committees are short on members. You’ll never know until you ask! Contact Judy Simpson at AMTA (simpson@musictherapy.org) or your region/state’s MT association to find out how you can help.
  • If your state has its own music therapy organization, get involved. Even attending just one meeting will help you get to know other local music therapists and fill you in on what’s going on in your region!
  • Start a music therapy blog. If that sounds too overwhelming, read and comment on other blogs. This is a great way to have discussions with other MTs as well as find some ways to enhance your own work as a student or intern. But know that the music therapy blogging community is extremely welcoming to new bloggers! There are so many amazing resources out there to look to for advice and support as you explore blogs for ideas or think about starting your own.
  • When you see a great blog post or newspaper article about music therapy, share it with friends or family.

 5.     Never be afraid to bring your new ideas to the table.

The great thing about MT students and interns is that we are just so darn EXCITED about what we’re doing. Offer your unique perspective and energy about music therapy by sharing some fresh ideas at your next state MT association meeting or on a blog post.

I hope that this list might inspire and challenge you to find one new way to contribute to music therapy advocacy not only this month but year round. I’d love to hear how you plan to advocate for music therapy in the comment section below!

For updates about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success, enter your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right or follow my twitter: @songsforsuccess.

#mtadvocacy Guest Post: “We are…MUSIC THERAPISTS!”

7 Jan

SM Advocacy Badge 2012_250x250Each January, music therapists from around the world come together to support and advocate for the field of music therapy on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, music therapy blogs and beyond. This year’s project theme is “We are…” and will center on exploring and honoring our identity as music therapists and as a distinct and stand-alone profession, unique from other professions and professionals with which we work. This music therapy intern and baby blogger could not be more honored to participate in this exciting music therapy advocacy movement this year!

 Stay tuned for my personal contribution to this project, which will be a post tailored to music therapy students and interns: #mtadvocacy: We are…student advocates!”

To officially kick off 2014’s Social Media Advocacy Month on Songs for Success, I want to share a special guest post written by Judy Simpson, MT-BC, who serves as the Director of Government Relations for the American Music Therapy Association (www.musictherapy.org). She can be reached at simpson@musictherapy.org

When I started my career as a music therapist in 1983, it was not uncommon for me to describe my profession by comparing it to other professions which were more well-known.  If people gave me a puzzled look after I proudly stated, “I use music to change behaviors,” I would add, “Music therapy is like physical therapy and occupational therapy, but we use music as the tool to help our patients.” Over the years as I gained more knowledge and experience, I obviously made changes and improvements to my response when asked, “What is music therapy?” My enhanced explanations took into consideration not only the audience but also growth of the profession and progress made in a variety of research and clinical practice areas.

The best revisions to my description of music therapy, however, have grown out of government relations and advocacy work.  The need to clearly define the profession for state legislators and state agency officials as part of the AMTA and CBMT State Recognition Operational Plan (http://www.musictherapy.org/policy/stateadvocacy/) has forced a serious review of the language we use to describe music therapy.  The process of seeking legislative and regulatory recognition of the profession and national credential provides an exceptional opportunity to finally be specific about who we are and what we do as music therapists.

For far too long we have tried to fit music therapy into a pre-existing description of professions that address similar treatment needs.  What we need to do is provide a clear, distinct, and very specific narrative of music therapy so that all stakeholders and decision-makers “get it.” Included below are a few initial examples that support our efforts in defining music therapy separate from our peers that work in other healthcare and education professions.

  • Music therapist’s qualifications are unique due to the requirements to be a professionally trained musician in addition to training and clinical experience in practical applications of biology, anatomy, psychology, and the social and behavioral sciences.
  • Music therapists actively create, apply, and manipulate various music elements through live, improvised, adapted, individualized, or recorded music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages.
  • Music therapists structure the use of both instrumental and vocal music strategies to facilitate change and to assist clients achieve functional outcomes related to health and education needs.
  • In contrast, when OTs, Audiologists, and SLPs report using music as a part of treatment, it involves specific, isolated techniques within a pre-determined protocol, using one pre-arranged aspect of music to address specific and limited issues. This differs from music therapists’ qualifications to provide interventions that utilize all music elements in real-time to address issues across multiple developmental domains concurrently.

As we “celebrate” 2014’s Social Media Advocacy Month (http://musictherapystaterecognition.blogspot.com), I invite you to join us in the acknowledgement of music therapy as a unique profession.  Focused on the ultimate goal of improved state recognition with increased awareness of benefits and increased access to services, we have an exciting adventure ahead of us. Please join us on this advocacy journey as we proudly declare, “We are Music Therapists!”