The music therapy field is blossoming and becoming more and more recognized as the days go by. Social media is largely to thank for that as now we can circulate articles like wildfire allowing hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people to view a single post! With all of this new fame comes a wonderful opportunity for our profession to grow and for more people to be served by the wonderful work that we do. Through social media we are connected as professionals stronger than ever before. This provides a wonderful opportunity for us as music therapists to work together to continue to grow the profession, especially in our own communities. Each and every MT is unique and brings their own uniqueness to the field and the clients we serve. Ironically, this is very similar to music. Each song, artist, genre, etc. has a uniqueness which separates it from the next, yet a commonality that joins them together. Even if several artists replicate the same song, each version is different, and each version spotlights the artists’ talents. Long story short… we all have something to contribute even if we are doing the same thing.
There are currently less than 6,000 music therapists in the USA, leaving a lot more room to grow when we consider the number of professionals in other therapy fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012, there were over 130,000 speech therapists, 0ver 113,000 occupational therapists and over 200,000 physical therapists. With that being said, I would like to take a moment to consider a few additional numbers which help put things in perspective.
A Few Numbers to Consider:
-there are over 16,000 skilled nursing facilities (CDC, 2013)
-over 5,300 hospices (NHPCO, 2011)
-over 5,700 AHA Registered Hospitals (AHA, 2014)
-nearly 100,000 public schools (NCES, 2010)
If we assume there are 5,500 MTs seeking work in just these facilities, that boils down to each MT having to work at 23 facilities. Should we even do the math for how many people this would add up to be? Just assuming there are 100 persons (average) at each facility this would mean each MT would be treating 2,300 people! That is a case load I personally am not ready to handle! And we haven’t even considered all of the other populations/facilities where MTs could and do work!
The bottom line is that there is a lot of work sitting around waiting for MTs to get their hands on and the best way for us to do this is to help each other. It is difficult work to start up contracts on your own, believe me I know! The help that I have received from fellow MT colleagues is what has helped me grow my business more than anything I have done on my own. By focusing on the outcome of the profession and the clients that we serve we can do so much for our communities and music therapy in general.
We Can Help Each Other By:
–Assisting those who are new to the field starting up their own businesses (as many MTs are beginning to do) or looking for jobs by offering advice and lessons learned. Those of us who have been there-done that, have so much knowledge to offer to others in the field so why not lend a helping hand?
– Referring business to other MTs when our facility/business cannot provide what the potential client is looking for. Whether that be types of services, populations served, location, travel, etc. Yes business is business and it can get competitive. But with all of the possibilities of work for MTs we should be working together to spread jobs, not compete for them.
– Communicating with and Supporting each other and our successes and failures. This ties in with the first mentioned above. Hearing positive and supportive feedback from our colleagues can be quite rewarding in both rewarding and difficult times. Knowing that we have support from others in our field will help us to carry on especially when times are tough.
–Working together to advocate for state recognition. This also includes educating and working with other therapy professionals such as speech, OT and PT. We are making strides towards this each and every day with the work of those on the task forces and the advocacy work done by individuals. We can do it!
By coming together as professionals and working separately, yet together as a whole, we can create and grow music therapy in our communities without fail! As I stated before, we all have our strengths as individuals and therapists, and if we “combine our forces”, just imagine all of the possibilities!
National Center for Education Statistics (2010). Fast Facts: Educational Institutions. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=84
NHPCO Facts and Figures: Hospice Care in America.Alexandria, VA: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, October 2012