Saint Mary-of-the-Woods music therapy students return, along with their classmates from all over campus, this Monday and the weather this January is reminiscent of spring weather, not winter!
January is the start of a new calendar year (Happy 2012!), the start of a new semester, and also means that many students are preparing for internships and/or graduation. This semester is always one of beginnings and endings, transition and growth.
There are also other events happening in the music therapy world this month. For example, it is the second annual Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month. If you are on Twitter, be sure to follow the #mtadvocacy hashtag for your connection to many discussions about advocacy. Many bloggers are posting about music therapy advocacy, and Facebook pages are discussing it, and so check it out. To get started, you might try reading Kimberly Sena Moore's blog or check out this thoughtful post Engaging in Music Therapy Advocacy: What it has Brought Us, and What it May Mean for Us found on music therapist Bill Matney's website.
When I think of advocacy, I think about all the conversations I have on a weekly basis with my students, the people in my community, on our campus, and even within my own department. Advocacy has many levels of involvement, from a casual conversation (and making the choice to answer the question "So, what IS music therapy"), to a formal meeting (e.g. proposing the continuation of, or even creating, a music therapy program in a facility), to contacting government officials on the state, regional, and national level to educate them about the importance of music therapy as part of our healthcare system.
Music therapists are a special breed of healthcare professional. They are so extremely service-oriented that while they always advocate for their own clients, they also advocate for their profession because it benefits individuals, families, communities and society-at-large as well. That is something worth talking about, don't you think?
--Sharon R. Boyle, Associate Professor of Music Therapy and Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College