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 over 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed in 2011, 1 licensure bill passed in 2012, and an estimated 7 bills being filed in 2013 that seek to create either title protection or a licensure for music therapy. This month, our focus is on YOU and on getting you excited about advocacy.

Our theme this year is CONNECT, and as a music therapy blogger, I have been invited to share my thoughts with you, my readers.  For more information and blog posts about the Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month, click here.

Music Therapy is truly all about connections.  The connections we make with our clients, with our clients’ family, with our clients’ teachers, other therapists, caregivers and treatment team.  We must also recognize the connection to the MUSIC!  Isn’t that what it is all about?  What progress can we make if the music has no connection to us?

I’m often asked about the songs I choose to sing with my clients.  Why do I choose particular music for my clients to use?

It is all about connections.

For example, if we were doing a reminiscence activity and my client had no idea who Ella Fitzgerald was, I have no business trying to drag out memories using one of her songs, but put on Billy Joel and my client begins to tell a ton of stories and BAM, I have made a connection.

The same goes for a younger client.  I could begin to sing a song from one of my favorite artists, who is totally kid-friendly, and my client may look at me blankly.  An initial connection may not be present, as this piece of music is something that my client has never heard before and can make very few associations!

However, this piece of music could elicit some amazing responses like dancing (when they don’t typically dance) or singing (when they are not typically singers) or even just a simple “I think I know this”, because they have heard the piece before and they have made a positive connection.

Let’s go the other way…

We have a client who is having trouble expressing thoughts and emotions when it comes to trauma in her past.  We have worked with this client for long enough to know her likes and dislikes when it comes to music.  One day, we put on a piece of music, and instantly our client begins to cry.  While we may look at this initially and think “Oh, no I made my client cry”, we, as therapists, can look at this and say “Oh, I have allowed my client to emote!”.  My client is showing me that, positive or negative, this music and this client have a connection.  It is from here where we are able to build and discuss.

We choose music because our clients can make associations with it, positive or negative.  We choose music based on the needs of our clients, and because they could make a connection with something familiar.

What music do you have a connection with?  Leave a comment below!