- DO validate a person’s perceived idea of music therapy. Hear me out… the quickest way for someone to shut down in a conversation about music therapy is to immediately negate their perception of our field. How many times have you caught yourself saying “well actually….”? Try to sincerely validate one’s perception before diving into conversation about any misconceptions they may have.
- DON’T start rambling off a list every population you work and/or goals you work on when you describe your role as a therapist. Sometimes simplicity is key. Try making your answer as concise and understandable as possible without lots of MT jargon! Exhibit A: I help hospice patients control their pain with music-assisted relaxation. Trust me, it’ll open the door to many questions that will allow you to further explain!
- DO stay up to date with research. This is easier said than done- if you’re like me (hey! Kally here), reading studies can sometimes be tedious and time-consuming. BUT- reading and knowing about the latest research in music therapy is not only valuable as a clinician, it can also be really helpful when advocating for music therapy. How? Glad you asked! I just recently read a few studies that focused on a particular intervention for a type of patient that I was working with, which seamlessly translated into a really meaningful, rapport building conversation with the patient’s nurse when speaking with her about how the patient was doing! Any time you can show or explain that there is research to back up what you are doing, the easier it will be for other professionals to understand the value of music therapy. Note: This may not be true for every profession in every circumstance. This is simply what my experience has been as a music therapist working with other medical and healthcare professionals. Proceed with caution.
- DON’T get defensive and frustrated. As I watch and communicate with music therapists from around the country, I’m often shocked by how defensive some of my fellow professionals get by someone not knowing what music therapy is or not defining it correctly. The only way this will ever change is if we take a step back, take a deep breath, and become productive (not defensive or frustrated) in conversations to work toward our goal of helping people to understand music therapy and the work we do as music therapists. Or as our Assistant Director Sam, likes to say- MAYBE WE JUST NEED TO EAT A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE.
- DO create healthy, respectful relationships with other healthcare professionals. In a field where we are constantly advocating for our services, it can sometimes be tiring and frustrating when we feel like our voices are not being heard or that we are not on the same page as our coworkers. Creating healthy, respectful, and genuine relationships with others is so important—even if it’s not the easiest thing to do.
So I leave you with a challenge- try to implement one of these strategies the next time you find yourself advocating for music therapy. Which will likely be tomorrow. 🙂
This post is a part of the 2016 AMTA/CBMT Social Media Advocacy Month. Head over to the project website to read more advocacy blog posts! #mtadvocacy