AMTA Print this Page

Responding to Misrepresentation of Music Therapy

August 9, 2019 11:28 AM

Responding to Misrepresentation of Music Therapy

Tips from the AMTA Professional Advocacy Committee

Function of the Committee

  • To advocate for the professional representation of the field of music therapy.
  • To assist membership in responding to misrepresentation of music therapy in the media and in public.

How We Serve the AMTA Membership

  • We actively present at regional and national conferences
  • We assume role of coordinator for advocacy-related incidents and opportunities for education on the profession of music therapy
  • We document best-practice based approaches for education on the profession of music therapy
  • We maintain records of misrepresentation and education for future reference and analysis of trends

How can members become involved?

Advocacy can be complex and unique depending on the location and urgency of the situation.  The committee prefers pro-active education about the profession of music therapy and when necessary one that responds to misrepresentation.  Professional advocacy can take two main forms, education of the field and response to misrepresentation.  Here are some helpful tips:

Education About the Profession
  • Consider your local influencers and decision makers.  Find out their perceptions of music therapy and listen with an open mind.  We can learn much if we listen.
  • When people ask us what music therapy is, frame the message to something they care about, provide an auditory, visual, and/or kinesthetic example
  • Consider writing a blog, a product review, write a guest column to a digital or print publication using your credential
  • Serve on a local board
How to Deal with Misrepresentation of Music Therapy
  1. Assemble the facts of the incident or opportunity
  2. Reach out to your regional Professional Advocacy Representative, they help coordinate responses of misrepresentation to prevent multiple points of contact.  They can be located on the AMTA Professional Advocacy Webpage or Regional Music Therapy Website. Your regional representative will determine if the case should be responded to locally, regionally, or advanced nationally.  If it is handled best on a local level, the representative will guide and advise you on successful advocacy approaches, including the best mode of contact.
  3. You will be asked to share correspondence with your PAC representative for the committee file

Before writing a letter, making a telephone call, sending E-mail or making a personal visit regarding an instance of misrepresentation, it is critical you have all of the facts. Do not put yourself in the situation of responding to a misrepresentation, only to discover that the information you have is in error.  Professional advocacy can occasionally be alerting or triggering, be aware of how you feel when participating in the activity itself.  Balance of heart and head works best when advocating.

Writing a letter usually gets the best results. Letters are still considered to be the most professional way to communicate questions and concerns. A letter is physical and tangible. You should keep a copy of your letter and any response for future reference.

For any questions on how to educate and advocate, please refer to the AMTA website and find the professional advocacy committee.

Watch These Videos to Learn More

Responding to Misrepresentation on Social Media

Before responding too quickly, take a moment to breathe and think about how to best represent the field of music therapy. We want to invite a conversation and educate with professionalism and respect.

Shift the Conversation from Correction to Connection

It's important to remember that most people who are misrepresenting music therapy have good intentions and will welcome education about our profession. Think about taking the time to build  relationships with those who we educate about music therapy.  If the connection is taking place on social media, strongly consider taking the conversation out of the public forum and into a private message or e-mail. 

Avoiding Advocacy Burn Out - Where to Focus our Advocacy Energy

Determine your Advocacy Personality: Are you someone who likes to be up front and center having direct conversations?  or maybe you feel more comfortable writing letters or blogs. Advocate for music therapy but also educate about how things that are not music therapy can still be of value. Let's take a little more control of the conversation so we can be more Proactive and less Reactive. Advocacy is exhausting, so let your regional PAC rep help you prioritize where to focus your energy!




Copyright © 1998-2020. American Music Therapy Association® and its logo are registered trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. Information, files, graphics, and other content on this site are the property of the American Music Therapy Association® and may not be reproduced beyond personal use in print or any other media without express written permission of the American Music Therapy Association. The American Music Therapy Association® is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and accepts contributions which support its mission. Contributions are tax deductible as allowed by law.
8455 Colesville Road, Suite 1000 | Silver Spring MD 20910 | Phone: 301.589.3300 | Fax: 301.589.5175