It’s Social Media Advocacy Month! I’m one of over two dozen bloggers and podcasters using social media to talk about and get people excited about advocacy throughout January.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I’ve been a music therapy advocate since September of 2004. That was the year I became a music therapy graduate student, and began telling anyone who would listen all about the power of music therapy.
And you may not realize it, but chances are you’re a music therapy advocate too. After all, you are reading this blog! If you’ve passed this link along to someone, or tried to explain music therapy, then you most certainly are. The bottom line is that advocacy is for anyone.
When I started advocating for my profession, I was a student with only a little seed of knowledge. But as I learned more and became more active in the field, my level of advocacy increased. I started this blog, I began using social media to spread the word, and I networked with other music therapists and music therapy advocates across the country via the internet. And then I joined my state’s music therapy recognition task force.
Introduction: Advocacy –> Recognition –> Access
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.
Since becoming a part of the task force, I have advocated to people and agencies across the state of Illinois, including state legislators at the capitol — something I never envisioned myself doing a few years ago because I thought “government relations” sounded scary!
Admittedly, this kind of advocacy is a little out of my comfort zone — I’m much more at home typing away on this computer. The State Recognition Operational Plan involves increasing awareness of the music therapy profession and of what it means to be board-certified. The ultimate goal is that, in all situations, the MT-BC be a minimum requirement as a service provision in every work setting. Achieving this goal is important to me, which is why I continue to step outside my advocacy comfort zone.
The great news is that there are many ways to be an advocate. You can be the one to talk face-to-face with a legislator or agency official, or the one who helps behind-the-scenes in organizing grassroots efforts. You can serve on a state task force or help out with periodic letter writing efforts and Hill Day events.
What kind of advocate are you…a super-star or a behind-the-scene sleuth? Take this little quiz to find out! And once you have, please share your results in the comments.
Take the Quiz
1. When asked by your state recognition task force if you know whom
your current State Senator and/or Representative are, your reply is:
- “Good question.”
- “I think I know, but let me double-check.”
- “Yes, I know the names but not much about them.”
- “Yes, they’ve already heard from me about an issue.”
2. Which best describes the written correspondence (e.g. email, letter,
etc.) you have had with your Senator and/or Representative:
- I’m on a first-name basis with at least one of their staff members.
- You’re kidding, right?
- I’ve considered writing, but don’t really know how the process works.
- I’ve made contact on at least one occasion about an issue.
3. You have been approached by your state recognition task force to
participate in a “Hill Day” to make visits to legislators regarding state recognition of music therapy. Your first thought is:
- “That sounds scary, but if you give me some guidance I’ll give it a shot.”
- “Do you need me to help train others? I’ve done this before.”
- “Isn’t there another committee or task I can help with?”
- “I’m happy to go as long as I don’t have to do the talking.”
4. You are just settling in to your seat for a 2-hour flight when the person
next to you asks, “What do you do?” After you respond, the questions begin. You think:
- “I don’t mind sharing, but I want to listen to the CD I downloaded
before this flight. Let’s wrap it up.”
- “So far, so good. I hope I can answer all their questions.”
- “Bring on the questions. I love these opportunities to educate!”
- “I wish I’d said I was a dental hygienist.”
5. An agency that you work for has asked you to give a presentation
about music therapy to their Foundation Board. You see this as:
- A little bit of a daunting task but do-able, as long as you can confer
with colleagues for help and practice.
- An ulcer in the making. Is there someone else that can cover this one?
- No sweat. I love doing this sort of thing and could do it in my sleep.
- This could be fun. I have a little practice with this and welcome the
chance to be in front of a new group.
6. You get a call from a colleague in the state association to talk about
the “State Recognition Operational Plan” and what your thoughts are on pursuing licensure. You:
- Recall hearing something about this and are glad for the chance to ask questions and talk about what is happening in the state.
- Want to know about being more involved with the task force or how you can help.
- Aren’t sure they have the right number.
- Are part of the team making these calls.
7. As you sit down with the morning newspaper you notice that the opening of the current legislative session is front page news. The article outlines what the major issues are for this session. You:
- Skip past that to find the weather for this week.
- Skim through to get a sense of what issues are going to be “hot
- Make a note to see what committees your Senator and Representative are on in case they might be able to help.
- Wonder why the writer of this article didn’t cover the healthcare issues with the same depth as the online coverage that you’ve been following.
8. You receive an e-mail from your state task force asking you to complete a survey about your work as a music therapist. You:
- Helped create the survey and look forward to compiling the results so you can figure out the music therapy profile in your state. What a great advocacy tool!
- Hope to get around to it in the next week or so but think, “Haven’t I already answered these questions?”
- Complete it right then and sign up to be contacted in the event that they need help with state recognition tasks.
- Delete. No time for another survey.
9. At the urging of a friend you agreed to join your state task force. On the most recent call, the group is deciding who will take on particular tasks. You are most likely to:
- Take the lead on writing correspondence to your colleagues as long as you can get some feedback and support from the other task force members.
- Volunteer to be the chair of the task force. You are ready to lead!
- Take on a task that can be done by searching the internet and providing information to help the group’s effort.
- Participate in calls and weigh in with an occasional opinion about what the group should do next.
10. The efforts of your task force have paid off and there is a bill proposed to license music therapists going before the Health and Human Services Committee on the Senate side. Your sponsoring Senator has indicated that a few of you should speak at the hearing. You:
- Look forward to hearing how that works out.
- Are willing to contact a client’s family that might be willing to share their story.
- Are happy to help organize materials as long as you don’t have to speak in front of anyone.
- Have had your presentation and remarks ready for weeks. Bring on the committee.
Tally Your Score
Question 1: a=1, b=2, c=3, d=4
Question 2: a=4, b=1, c=2, d=3
Question 3: a=3, b=4, c=1, d=2
Question 4: a=2, b=3, c=4, d=1
Question 5: a=2, b=1, c=4, d=3
Question 6: a=2, b=3, c=1, d=4
Question 7: a=1, b=2, c=3, d=4
Question 8: a=4, b=2, c=3, d=1
Question 9: a=3, b=4, c=2, d=1
Question 10: a=1, b=3, c=2, d=4
What’s Your Advocacy Personality?
34-40 points: Loud and Proud
Maybe YOU should run for office?! Your advocacy style is a front-and-center,
informed, direct approach. You aren’t afraid to take any and all opportunities
presented to you to promote your cause. Whether it is making sure you are
up-to-date with the latest “intel,” staying connected to your colleagues and
professional happenings, writing e-mails or taking meetings, you make sure that
you are well informed and that your voice is heard.
26-33 points: Not Afraid to Take the Lead
You are excited about the possibility of working for change and you aren’t afraid
to talk to others or take on a leadership role as long as you have some support
and guidance from others. You enjoy sharing ideas with about the profession and
how to achieve change.
18-25 points: Behind-the-Scenes Sleuth
You are committed to helping out the group in a role that does not require you
to be front and center. You work to stay informed and are happy to search the
internet, write a letter or e-mail, or deal with tasks that allow you time to process
10-17 points: Supporting Role
While you feel invested, you aren’t necessarily comfortable being front-and-
center to answer questions or lead the charge. You prefer a supportive role that
helps further the cause. Rest assured that there are lots of advocacy tasks that
would not get done without the support of those who are more comfortable doing
the detail or research work that supports the more vocal members of the group.
Maintaining membership and board-certification, responding to surveys and
requests from your task force, and reading organizational news are ways to be
involved without committing a huge amount of time.
Remember to post your advocacy style in the comments below!