Teaching Music Therapy Advocacy
One day, about a year ago, I was busying myself on the computer when I overheard a telephone conversation my roommate was having. For this story, you need a little background information. He had graduated with degrees in finance and economics and was into his first year of law school. It’s fair to say we have very different interests and strengths, but we’d been friends all throughout our undergraduate years and our friendship continues.
Advocacy creates a domino effect
I don’t know who he was talking to on that day, but my ears perked up when I heard music therapy being mentioned. To my surprise and delight, he was saying, “Yeah, music therapy. He uses music to work on other types of goals. Like language and movement and stuff. It’s a legit thing; that’s what his degree is in. Autism, Alzheimer’s, lot’s of things…” The conversation went on, and though not textbook, it was a pretty good definition for someone outside the profession.
This experience made me realize that we’re not just advocating, but we’re teaching people how to advocate. After this, I asked my parents how they describe music therapy to other people. I asked my grandparents, my sisters, and others who were close to me, and gave some coaching on how to present the profession. I gave them some basic scenarios and stories they could use to illustrate music therapy to a complete newbie. Anyone can be an advocate; we just need to make sure we give them the tools to do it effectively and accurately.
You can’t be everywhere, advocating to everyone. So, multiply yourself!
This week, talk to people close to you and find out how they describe your profession. Gently provide some coaching, and thank them for helping out this discipline as it grows stronger and stronger.