Immigration policy protests
Tax day marches
We have seen a wave of protest activity over the past few months. Though these public demonstrations are focused on objections, and thus inherently carry with them a negative association, they can also be perceived as large-scale advocacy efforts. Advocacy for the protection of rights, safety, health, and families. Advocacy for offering a safe haven for immigrants and refugees. Advocacy for a different values for our country. Viewed in this light, protests are really just reactive advocacy efforts in which a group voices its objection to a policy or course of action.
So how can we—a smallish profession, just over 7,000 strong—how can we make our voice heard through the din of this large-scale, headline-grabbing chatter?
It starts first with the recognition that advocacy occurs on many levels. Yes, the large protests grab the headlines, but advocacy is also equally as effective (if not more so) on a smaller and more personal scale.
It happens first in the clinical space, by doing quality work, effective work, work that changes lives. This effort builds over time as those whose lives were changed share their story (and talk about your role in their story) with others.
Advocacy continues through educating, sharing, and demonstrating your work with colleagues, prospective clients, and administrators. With time, as you continue to talk about the work you do, your circle of advocacy expands.
It’s also in little decisions you make. It’s when you choose to participate in a call to action by making a phone call or sending an email. It’s when you choose to happily answer the question “what is music therapy.” It’s when you decide to finally attend that advocacy training or complete the survey sent to you by a task force member.
Opportunities to advocate abound, and they do not always need to happen through large-scale, organized, headline-grabbing events. Though these are effective in getting a message heard, I can’t help but wonder whether actionable results, those that actually change minds and hearts, are more possible through small-scale, proactive advocacy efforts.
Thus my challenge to you as we wrap up the 2017 Social Media Advocacy month is to be mindful and engaged in your daily advocacy efforts. Continue to do good work. Continue to talk about what you do. Continue to make decisions that keep you informed and engaged. It’s these efforts that will help the music therapy profession grow in public awareness and esteem.