Happy New Year, everyone! January every year brings new beginnings, resolutions, and… Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month! This project, now in its sixth (!) year, brings music therapist bloggers together for reflection on why advocating for music therapy is important and how we can improve our efforts.
The author of the below guest post on #MTadvocacy is Dena Register, PhD, MT-BC, Regulatory Affairs Advisor for the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). Keep reading for Dena’s thoughts on the three types of effective advocates, and stay tuned later in the month for my personal reflections and experiences with advocacy!
Each New Year brings the opportunity to reflect on all that we have accomplished and to determine what is needed in the coming year to move forward. As the Regulatory Affairs (CBMT) and Government Relations (AMTA) teams reflect on the first 10 years of the State Recognition Operational Plan, we are grateful for the number of individuals that have actively engaged in the advocacy process. We have had the incredible fortune to watch groups of diverse individuals pull together, capitalize on their strengths, and create access to services for clients and families that benefit greatly from music therapy.
One of the observations we reflect on regularly is what makes an advocacy team successful. The teams that stand out are those that have 3 different kinds of participants: Connectors, Reflectors and Directors. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, this seems to be a “triple threat” of action-oriented personalities that are able to work in tandem and move a group forward.
“Connectors” are people who are gifted at building bridges by bringing others together and recognizing complimentary skill sets in those that they know. Connectors enjoy creating opportunities for people from diverse background and experiences to meet and interact. The role of the Connector in advocacy is to maximize the human resources available to them and to increase the network for their cause by helping interested parties get to know one another and discuss common interests. It is often the Connectors who are able to establish relationships with legislators or other decision makers that develops them into incredible advocates.
Image courtesy of ddpavumba at freedigitalphoto.net
Holding Up the Mirror
“Reflectors” are gifted at taking in information, experiences, and perceptions and—as the name implies—reflecting back the most salient points to those around them. Reflectors often have a knack for diffusing situations by indicating an understanding and empathy for someone else’s position. Reflectors also make great advocates because of their fierce loyalty to their cause. Their ability to see issues from multiple perspectives and then to communicate that to multiple audiences brings all sides of an issue to the foreground for discussion. Reflectors unite various individuals and guide the group to a vision that recognizes the complexity of all issues.
Image courtesy of Aleksa D at freedigitalphoto.net
Consulting the Compass
“Directors” are the ones who are able to see the big picture of possibilities that exist beyond the current situation. They are able to assimilate the work of the “Reflectors” and the “Connectors” and navigate a course of next steps based on that information. Directors also gather additional relevant information as they move forward and constantly attend to what course corrections are necessary to get to their end goal. Those who are most successful in this role demonstrate flexibility in their thinking and actions, which allows them to accommodate to various situations that are presented and that often change without prior notice. Directors take a broad view of an issue, projecting out beyond its current status or challenge and using an ideal vision or end goal to guide the day-to-day steps necessary to get there.
Image courtesy of nirots at freedigitalphoto.net
So how about you? Are you a Connector, Reflector, or Director? Or maybe there is another description you would use? We would like to hear from you about other characteristics or personalities that you find “key” in advocacy.