As a music therapist, I encounter many misconceptions of music therapy and how it works. Music therapists are constantly advocating for the profession and educating others on the benefits of music therapy as noted in evidenced based research. We also emphasize the importance of having a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) when implementing interventions, because similar to other therapies it could potentially cause harm through unsafe practice. Regardless of the reason, advocating for music therapy can be challenging and we can’t do it alone.
But first, what is an advocate and what is advocacy?
Advocate: someone who publicly supports or recommends something.
Advocacy: the act of supporting or recommending something.
We may advocate our points of view each day and not realize it. Perhaps through our religion or faith, political affiliations, our college pride, or our favorite sports teams. Maybe we grew up with it, stumbled upon it, discovered it, or researched and learned about it. What we advocate for helps make up our identity and how we spend our time, especially if we are passionate about it.
Why are advocates important and how can we advocate? Advocates are important, particularly in music therapy because our field is small in comparison to other professions. Not every city has a music therapist in their midst which makes it that much harder to spread the word. However, we can advocate through word of mouth, reading research and sharing it with others, suggesting music therapy be added to your facility by communicating with the clinical services director, recognizing the difference between a music therapist who is not certified, educating others, inquiring how to get music therapy on individual education plans, or call a board certified music therapist near you to set up an in-service on music therapy for your facility or treatment team!
Advocating and engaging in advocacy is not only important through word of mouth but at the Senate and the South Carolina State House. South Carolina currently has a bill on the floor to license music therapists. Prior to the session ending, we passed our sub-committee and are now moving on to be heard at full committee. We are very excited about the prospects of this bill and if you want more information on bill S. 589, view our petition here. Music therapists around the state engaged in advocacy through visiting the South Carolina State House and educating legislators on both music therapy and the bill. We also had an incredible amount of support from our advocates.
Knowledge is power- being an advocate means understanding and believing in something you think is worth fighting for. I challenge you, the reader, to do the research, ask questions, and help us educate others on the importance and value of music therapy.
Lastly, I leave you with one question, how else can you be an advocate for music therapy?