Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's January, and that means it Social Media Advocacy Month

As you've probably surmised, from the festive badge and such, it's that time of the year again where we music therapists use the power of social media to advance the cause of music therapy in our respective states. 

The good news: it seems to be working! 

As the lovely Kat Fulton of Music Therapy Ed points out, we've been recognized in major publications (online and off), and we've even been named Persons of the Week for gosh sakes! Amazingly, nowadays we can even see characters who are music therapists in books, on television series and in movies

As a person who's been at this a while (ahem!), it's refreshing to meet people, tell them I'm a music therapist and have them respond with "Cool!" rather than "you're a what?" 

Dena Register (see below for her 2016 article) sees our advocacy styles as falling into three different categories. She identifies us as Connectors, Reflectors and Directors (I mean, don't we all really want to direct?). This is certainly true, and many of us do have these characteristics. But I want to propose another feature music therapists of the world possess, which is that of being Innovators

We've only just celebrated our 65th anniversary as an official profession. In that time, we have grown in remarkable ways. We've become an actual profession, complete with professional competencies, standards of practice, a code of ethics, board certification, journals, along with new and innovative research methods that use the arts as their basis!

We are curious, we're determined, and we work hard to find news ways to grow and extend what we already know as a field. When we're faced with our clients day after day, we are truly with them. We take our failures, and we try again, learning from our mistakes as we boldly explore new ideas and approaches. 

Yes. We are Innovators. And because of that, there is a profession called 'music therapy.' 


And I will now step off of my soapbox and invite you to read Dena's perspective on the matter: 

Social Media Advocacy Month 2016
Dena Register, PhD, MT-BC
Certification Board for Music Therapists
Regulatory Affairs Advisor

Each New Year brings the opportunity to reflect on all that we have accomplished and to determine what is needed in the coming year to move forward. As the Regulatory Affairs (CBMT) and Government Relations (AMTA) teams reflect on the first 10 years of the State Recognition Operational Plan, we are grateful for the number of individuals that have actively engaged in the advocacy process. We have had the incredible fortune to watch groups of diverse individuals pull together, capitalize on their strengths, and create access to services for clients and families that benefit greatly from music therapy.

One of the observations we reflect on regularly is what makes an advocacy team successful. The teams that stand out are those that have 3 different kinds of participants: Connectors, Reflectors and Directors. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, this seems to be a “triple threat” of action-oriented personalities that are able to work in tandem and move a group forward.

Building Bridges 
“Connectors” are people who are gifted at building bridges by bringing others together and recognizing complimentary skill sets in those that they know.  Connectors enjoy creating opportunities for people from diverse background and experiences to meet and interact. The role of the Connector in advocacy is to maximize the human resources available to them and to increase the network for their cause by helping interested parties get to know one another and discuss common interests. It is often the Connectors who are able to establish relationships with legislators or other decision makers that develops them into incredible advocates.

Holding Up the Mirror 
“Reflectors” are gifted at taking in information, experiences, and perceptions and—as the name implies—reflecting back the most salient points to those around them. Reflectors often have a knack for diffusing situations by indicating an understanding and empathy for someone else’s position. Reflectors also make great advocates because of their fierce loyalty to their cause. Their ability to see issues from multiple perspectives and then to communicate that to multiple audiences brings all sides of an issue to the foreground for discussion. Reflectors unite various individuals and guide the group to a vision that recognizes the complexity of all issues.

Consulting the Compass
“Directors” are the ones who are able to see the big picture of possibilities that exist beyond the current situation. They are able to assimilate the work of the “Reflectors” and the “Connectors” and navigate a course of next steps based on that information. Directors also gather additional relevant information as they move forward and constantly attend to what course corrections are necessary to get to their end goal. Those who are most successful in this role demonstrate flexibility in their thinking and actions, which allows them to accommodate to various situations that are presented and that often change without prior notice. Directors take a broad view of an issue, projecting out beyond it’s current status or challenge and using an ideal vision or end goal to guide the day-to-day steps necessary to get there.

So how about you? Are you a Connector, Reflector, or Director? Or maybe there is another description you would use? We would like to hear from you about other characteristics or personalities that you find “key” in advocacy.