Contrary to Music Therapy

As a music therapist:

I strive to be: sensitive, empathetic, focused, aware, a listener, compassionate, willing, encouraging, seeking, building rapport, and pursuing.

I challenge myself to be: knowledgeable, helpful, understanding, intelligent, flexible, a great musician, and therapeutic.

I envision being: a leader, teacher, colleague, implementer, resource, expert, and team member.

I work to display these attributes by doing my job and doing it well. I push my role as a music therapist beyond my job description to widen my work boundaries. I stretch, expand, and test the limits, often for the sake of my patients and the service they deserve. I don’t do this for myself. I do this for my patients because I know how beneficial music therapy can be.

This past week I’ve been gnawing on questions of what my next steps should be in expressing to my workplace that expanding music therapy past myself and into a developing program is important for them. It is important for the patients and so it is important for the facility. Since starting my current job, I have:

  • constantly been promoting music therapy by example
  • explained my visions and goals in detail to supervisors, right off the bat
  • repeatedly hinted at the importance of hiring another music therapist
  • showcased population-specific research and discussed potential research at the facility
  • highlighted the effects and responses of my patients to team members
  • been vocal and open about my job description and responsibilities versus what services I actually provide
  • encouraged my department to started attending treatment team meetings
  • provided my TEDx talk as further education to staff
  • implemented individual sessions as often as possible without expectation
  • coordinated with staff for future lectures, in-services, and community engagement

I have been circling around and around the question, “what more can I do”? What more can I do to highlight what music therapy services can do for the hospital? How can I be more obvious in informing the staff that more can be done if there are more music therapists than myself? Why aren’t they seeing the downfalls of not having a music therapy program that provides services to all of their patients, instead of me simply squeezing in as many as I can? What else can I do to make them see that I am already at capacity for responsibilities and this is all they will be able to get?

I am already filling my time to the brim in the day. I am already making sacrifices when I can to be flexible in adding new, important responsibilities and goals. I am already being the best music therapist I can be at this time. I am already doing my job well. Why can’t my facility see what I envision for its future?

What I have learned, from conversations with my husband, advisor, and peers is that I’m not speaking their language. Apparently, I’ve been over here speaking fluently in feelings, emotions, and dreams, when I should have been speaking in business. I was in a strong mindset of, “If I do my job so well, they will jump up at once and hire more of me”. Naively, I believed this had happened to me previously when working in another company, because after 6 months of doing my job well, they did hire another MT. And they’ve continued to do so every few months since then. But what I didn’t realize before was that that previous company was already doing great business. I just happened to be there at the right time.

Apparently, my next step in advancing a future music therapy program is entirely contrary to music therapy. Advocating for another music therapy position has nothing to do with the research or the positive responses from patients. In a world revolving around feelings, I have to rely on business. This is an incredibly challenging aspect for me, as I have no background in business and certainly not the aptitude. How can I say what I have been saying all along, but this time in the right language?

This is an important area for music therapists to look into, and soon. How can we begin to be more business-minded, even outside of creating our own private practice? How can we speak the right language to a business-centered world in order to advance our profession? How can we step away from our music therapy selves in order to create more space for music therapy? Let’s figure out how we can be contrary to our natural language so that the rest of the world can see the indispensable service that is music therapy .



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: