AMTA's Disaster Response and Relief Efforts

 Music Therapy and Disaster Response 

AMTA responds to disaster events affecting professionals, students and the clients/patients we serve. So far, the first quarter of 2011 is proving to be very active with respect to disaster events in the United States and around the world. Since January, AMTA has extended welfare inquiries to music therapists and students in response to: the Tucson mass shooting last January; several severe weather events throughout the United States including tornados in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri; floods in and near Brisbane, Australia, North Dakota and Mississippi valley; earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand; and the massive earthquake, tsunami and radiation disaster in northeast Japan. International events begin by contacting AMTA’s member colleagues abroad and coordinating with the World Federation of Music Therapy.

Following any disaster event AMTA’s disaster response coordinator sets into motion three critical steps. First, a welfare inquiry is made to understand whether, and how, professional s or students are affected by the disaster. Second, AMTA seeks to understand what the assistance needs may be. Third, AMTA considers how best to meet individual needs, given the circumstances and available resources. More often than not, this process is fundamentally about respecting and supporting our colleagues during times of extremely high stress. In the United States, it is relatively uncommon for an organized profession to provide a regular and ongoing coordination of disaster response to and with its membership. We are able to do this because you – our members, colleagues, and friends – care. Our aim is simply to support our peers and students and assist in recovery. We do this so our peers may get back to the business of providing music therapy services in the aftermath of disaster as soon as possible.

infopod_graphicv2_smDisaster response from AMTA: Barbara Else, MT-BC, AMTA Disaster Repsonse Coordinator, summarizes the role AMTA plays in disaster response and provides information about resources when a music therapist is involved in a disaster.

March, 2011 Japan Earthquake/Tsunami

The major earthquake, and subsequent tsunami, in Japan appears to be one of the most powerful natural disasters on record. However, any disaster or traumatic event, no matter the size or scope of the event, is significant for those affected. Therefore, AMTA treats all disasters with attention, consideration and concern. On behalf of all the music therapists and students affected by this disaster, AMTA wishes to convey their appreciation and gratitude for everyone’s concern, support and call to respond. Dozens of our colleagues in Japan, as well as the music therapy student and professional members from Japan and living in the United States have candidly shared their thoughts, concerns and prayers over the past days.

This event is marked by a high level of social networking since internet service is readily available in most areas in Japan. One of the main AMTA disaster response activities in this first step has been serving as a conduit for communication and messaging. Some of these messages are already posted in member Facebook pages. Some include relayed messages from our colleagues in areas of Japan that sustained major infrastructure damage. Several members are working with AMTA to relay and/or assist in message translation in the U.S. and in Japan.

This event will involve a long recovery and rebuild process for the people of Japan. As we learn more about the needs of our colleagues and friends in Japan, we will work together so that music therapy services may continue and be a part of recovery and service to the community. Since this disaster is subject to change on a day to day basis, members and friends may choose to help immediately by making a charitable donation to an organization such the Red Cross. You may also make donations to the AMTA Disaster Fund by donating online. Go to the AMTA online store and select the Donation to AMTA Disaster Relief Fund option.  Once you select choose select, you may adjust the suggested amount to the amount of your choosing - either lower or higher - by changing the figure in the Amount box. 

2011 Joplin and Tuscaloosa Tornados

The 2011 spring weather season brought with it a tremendous and devastating series of tornados to the middle and southeast corridor of the U.S. Music therapists in and near some of these events have gone through significant change and, in some cases, losses. This is especially the case for the Tuscaloosa tornado that resulted in an early closing of the University training program in Tuscaloosa and affected property for some of the professionals and students in that region. After the Joplin, Missouri tornado this spring, music therapists in the state, including an area therapist are actively working to offer relief and services to the people of Joplin. This includes a summer program for children with special needs in a temporary location and music therapy services at other locations in the affected area. All of these activities make a difference on so many levels. Your continued support is welcome and sincerely appreciated!

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