Friday, January 29, 2016

Music Therapy Education = Advocacy Through Connection

  “Advocacy of music therapy is vital because there so many people who are unaware of what music therapy is and the benefits it provides!” 
- Emily Corbitt, SMWC MTED student

While the benefits of music therapy are obvious to those of us already in the profession, many people are still discovering it every day. It is crucial to bring about more awareness to music therapy in whatever ways we can in order to provide more access to needed services, to encourage new students to pursue study of music therapy, and to keep music therapy viable in a changing world. In her blog post for Social Media Advocacy Month, Dena Register, PhD, MT-BC briefly outlined three roles that music therapy advocates typically fall under: 
  • Connectors (building bridges to bring others together)
  • Reflectors (reflecting back important points and see multiple perspectives) 
  • Directors (seeing the big picture beyond the current situation)

While many of us may move in and out of these different roles, as a college serving a range of music therapy students from undergraduate to equivalency to graduate level, it is fair to say that most academic programs serve as a "Connector". It is fair to say that they also serve as "Reflectors" and "Directors" as well, but faculty often bring students and alums together, as well as students from various programs together. In doing so, a larger network of music therapy from which to draw insights, support, and new ways to advocate is created. 

Once students graduate, they move into the work force and make new connections with those outside of music therapy, as well as other music therapists. The university/college programs within which we all developed our understanding and skills in music therapy truly helped build bridges for us as we moved into the professional world. Students all better learn to stand on their own two feet through the support of faculty and internship supervisors, allowing them to grow into more self-awareness and learning more about their individual skill sets. These unique skills can then be transferred into new ways to connect with others and further bring awareness to music therapy. 

Register also mentioned different ways that we can advocate in our field, no matter whether we are students, interns, new professionals, or seasoned professionals. This may be done through public lectures, word of mouth, or media, so we can all do our part to let others know why we believe music therapy is essential. By doing so, we can help those who need our services to gain access. In addition, by growing our field through music therapy education, we ultimately advocate for music therapy.
Music Therapy = Connection

“We spend years developing skills, techniques, and knowledge in order to be the best music therapist we can be and after all that work we need to advocate for ourselves, our profession, and our identity so everyone understands the power and benefits of music and music therapy for all ages and populations...we need to promote that idea and understanding.” 
- Mallory Tanis, SMWC music therapy senior.

As a special way to honor Social Media Advocacy Month, a few SMWC undergraduate music therapy students (as part of the SMWC Music Therapy Club) decided to put together a video about why they think advocacy is so important: View video here!


Blog post authors: Nathan Mensah, senior, and Sharon R. Boyle, Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy.

For more information about the SMWC Undergraduate Music Therapy and Music Therapy Equivalency-Campus programs, contact:

Sharon R. Boyle, MM, MT-BC

For information about the SMWC Master of Arts in Music Therapy program, contact:
Dr. Tracy Richardson, MT-BC

For more information about the SMWC Music Therpay Equivalency-Distance (MTED) program, contact: 
Larisa McHugh, MA, MT-BC


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