[If you are looking for conference handouts, scroll down.] Last year I made some bold statements after the American Music Therapy Association’s national conference in Atlanta. #3 was especially important from last year.
This year I have 2 more bold statements.
1. You can be an expert AND a life-long learner at the same time. Dear music therapists, just say YES to outsider collaboration. Don’t build up your own personal anxiety about people taking the term “music therapy” and misusing it. Don’t even spend 10% of your time and energy worried that people are going to “steal” your expertise, especially if there is no evidence of such actions. They can’t, and they won’t, and if they do it’s not as big/bad/horrible as you think. That’s why we have standards, a degree program, a board-certification process.Instead, focus your energy on expansiveness, consulting, outreach, education. But not in an exclusive way. Think bigger. Our training gives us the expertise and unique opportunity to show others how *they* too can use music for good health. If you put yourself in a position of “I’m the ONLY one with the power to heal using music,” then you will wear yourself out and even worse… you’ll become a martyr. You do not have enough hours in the day to do this by yourself all around the world. Or even in your small town.
Stand in your power, consult, and do your good work. Maybe even consider packaging your expertise online. There’s no need to prove yourself, and if there ever was a time when you had to prove yourself, it’s over. There’s no need to “do your time.” Stand in your power, be the expert, be the authority. Don’t limit yourself. Otherwise, you’re making decisions based on fear. Decisions based on fear never have a good outcome. Let’s quit making decisions based on fear.
You can be an expert AND a life-long learner at the same time. Go that route.
2. Just say no to the masters level. I know far too many well-known music therapists who have said to me in confidence “Oh, I think masters level will kill our profession, but I’m in no political position to state that publicly.” Well, here I am stating it publicly. Apparently I don’t care much for politics and who is going to “like” me or “dislike” me, etc. Don’t let my biases be yours (as Dr. Madsen would say). But consider this:
There are about 2,909,357 registered nurses in the United States.
There are about 845,000 LCSWs in the United States.
There are about 96,000 speech language pathologists in the United States.
There are a WHOPPING 5,583 board-certified music therapists in the United States.
Do you think our numbers will increase or decrease by requiring a masters degree? If we assume that the numbers will decrease, then do you think that is a good thing or a bad thing for our field?
Simple math. I vote no. =)
But I voted yes at first. The math changed my mind. I love the idea of music therapists in the field who have delved into studies and specific populations deeper than bachelors level. However, considering the numbers, we would be shooting our profession in the foot. There would be even FEWER of us to go around. There is power in numbers, so let’s keep growing.