The Social Media Connection: How music therapists can avoid isolation by logging on
Miya Adout, MTA, MT-BC
As a newly certified music therapist, completing my final semester in the Master of Arts in Creative Arts Therapies program at Concordia University, I am very excited and ready to go out there into the professional world. Yet, I know that after the initial stress of meeting final deadlines has worn off and my studies are over, I will inevitably miss being a student. As a music therapy student, I have the privilege of constantly being around other music therapists – professors and students alike. Being able to bounce ideas off of each other, have meaningful discussions, and peer supervision from week to week is something I don’t take for granted. Once we all go off into the real world, we won’t have each other for the support in the same immediate way.
Despite efforts to keep in touch with old classmates – staying connected can prove challenging. However, communicating with other music therapists is an important part of our profession. In Austin and Dvorkin’s paper “Peer Supervision,” found in Music Therapy Supervision, the authors describe how their peer supervision group helped to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, commonly experienced by music therapists. Furthermore, Darnley-Smith and Patey (2003) state that isolation can lead to low self-esteem as well as lack of positivity and creativity among music therapists. It is important, then, to make an effort to connect to music therapists for support throughout your career. In “A Life of Music Therapy: Working together and in isolation,” Miles states when discussing isolation that, “It challenges you to be creative about maintaining links with your own profession.”
Luckily, social media can provide us with a unique and creative opportunity to stay connected with music therapists globally, and hopefully diminish feelings of isolation. As the Social Media Content Coordinator for the Canadian Association for Music Therapy, I have gathered some tips on some of the potential ways to use various social media platforms for this purpose:
Join the facebook group ‘Music Therapist’s Unite:
– This group allows you to connect with a large community of music therapists and ask them questions related to private practice, intervention ideas and much more.
– It also allows you the opportunity to answer the questions of many music therapists, offering your own unique ideas and experiences for professional support.
– Due to the high number of music therapists in this group, there is a large frequency of discussions. This means that by checking this page frequently, you will likely find several stimulating discussions occurring that are of interest to you.
– If you see a post on this group that interests you, you can comment on it by typing ‘Following’, or better yet, look for the scroll down menu in the top right corner and you can click on ‘Turn on Notifications.’ This way, you will receive a notification each time someone comments on that discussion.
Join your national and provincial association facebook groups:
– This will help to keep you up to date on the latest news and information applicable to music therapy in your location. It will also help you to connect to other music therapists in your area.
Check if your city has a music therapy facebook group:
– Some cities/towns have their own music therapy facebook groups in order to stay connected with music therapists close by.
– By joining this group, you may find that music therapists in your area are having get-togethers that you weren’t aware of. Join in!
– If your city/town does not have a music therapy facebook group – perhaps you can be the one to start the initiative.
Look for music therapy facebook groups specific to your special interest or the population you work with:
– By joining facebook groups such as; ‘Early Childhood Music Therapy Network’, you can access and share resources that are relevant to your work with music therapists.
– Or by joining the Online Conference for Music Therapy group (of course!) to connect with music therapists from around the globe.
Use the hashtag #musictherapy:
– By using this hashtag in your music therapy related tweets, others interested in music therapy will be able to locate your posts.
– By searching this hashtag you will be able to find others who are tweeting about music therapy. From there, you can follow these individuals and stay updated with their posts.
Make a list:
– Once you find music therapists on Twitter, you can create a music therapy list. By clicking on your music therapy list you will see all of the music therapists that you follow on twitter. This is a great way to stay connected to and expand your music therapy network.
– Retweeting other music therapist’s posts can help to show your support for their initiatives.
– Replying to music therapist’s tweets can make for an engaging conversation with individuals you may not have otherwise had the opportunity to connect with.
– Don’t forget to follow #OCMT15 to live tweet during the conference! This has been a primary factor in the tremendous and exponential growth of the Online Conference for Music Therapy in the past 4 years.
– After making a Pinterest account, search for ‘Music Therapy Boards’. These boards contain a collection of ‘pins’, which are essentially links to resources.
– For example, you might follow a board called ‘Music Therapy for Children’. Here, you will be able to see a music therapist’s collection of web-links that are useful for working with this population.
Make your own music therapy boards:
– By making your own music therapy boards, you are sharing your resources with other music therapists on Pinterest.
– You can then pin other’s resources onto your boards – creating a larger shared resource.
– Create boards based on your music therapy area of expertise. Examples of boards can be; Music Therapy and Mental Health, Music Therapy Advocacy, Music Therapy Books, Music Therapy – Group Interventions.
Follow music therapy blogs:
– There are many music therapists out there who have their own blogs, sharing valuable insight throughout their career. If you stumble across one that you enjoy, make sure to click ‘Follow’ or ‘Subscribe’ to receive emails when a new post has been made.
Comment on blogs and start a dialogue:
– Reading blogs is a great way to learn about how other music therapists are working. To engage in this further, feel free to comment on blog posts and stimulate a dialogue with the blogger. The blogger is most likely hoping to reach out to other music therapists, and when a dialogue has occurred based on the blog post it creates a sense of community.
Start your own blog!
– Consider starting your own blog to reach out to music therapists in order to stay connected online.
– Starting a blog can be a big undertaking. The first step would be to choose a website from which to start your blog. I find WordPress to be simple and user friendly. Next, decide on the theme of your blog and who you are hoping to reach out to.
There are many social media platforms out there that were not mentioned above. I would love to hear from readers on what social media platforms they find most useful.
Discussions and actions on social media must continue to abide by your music therapy code of ethics. It is crucial to continue to be mindful of client confidentiality when engaging online.
There are many additional ways to stay connected to music therapists offline. This includes organizing meeting with your colleagues and music therapist network for peer supervision.
Connecting with music therapists is just one method to avoid isolation. It is important to actively engage in other ways to diminish this experience, such as self-care.
Thank you to the Online Conference for Music Therapy and the CAMT for having me as a guest blogger. I’m looking forward to connecting at the Online Conference for Music Therapy!
Austin, D. & Dvorkin, J.M. (2001). Peer Supervision. In M. Forinash (Ed.), Music Therapy Supervision (Chapter 15). New Braunfels, TX: Barcelona Publishing.
Darnley-Smith, R. & Patey, H.M. (2003). Music Therapy: Creative Therapies in Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Miles, L. (2007). A life of music therapy: working together and in isolation. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 7(3).