I like social media. I like how easy it is to stay connected to people I no longer see everyday. Recently, I started using Twitter to connect with other music therapists. I quickly learned that Twitter is one of the most comfortable and easy ways to talk to and share information with people who have had or will someday have the same experiences as yourself. The reason I’m sharing with you right now is that the connections I have made on Twitter have opened me up to resources I was unaware of. This is a subject that has definitely been talked about in our online community of music therapists: Using social media to advocate, educate, and share personal experiences in the field. I want to share with you how making these connections on Twitter made me lose my feelings of isolation.
I live in Salisbury, NC. I received my board-certification in June 2010. I own a private practice. I have a strong relationship with my family, dogs included. I started a music therapy program from scratch at a Continuing Care Retirement Center. Up until last week, I felt isolated in my career. I found myself wondering if this was something other music therapists felt. How can I feel isolated when I am happy at home, have support at my job, and otherwise have a normal “budding” private practice? Isolation doesn’t always have to show itself through emotional status or actions or apathy. My isolation manifested itself in an electronic, interpersonally professional kind of way.
Other than the occasional emails from classmates and inquiry emails sent to past professors, I have had no professional connection to another music therapist in months. I have read the journals that I received from the AMTA, I advocated music therapy to professionals at other facilities, I wrote music, I practiced music therapy…I felt like was doing everything I could to stay active in my professional community. I was not proactive in connecting to other professionals just for the sake of networking for resources because I was skeptical of how meaningful those online relationships would be. Then I realized how strong of a relationship music therapists generally have to have with each other. We are a bonding group of people who LOVE to help, so why not try it and see.
I was floored with the amount of music therapists on Twitter. I was excited to see people promoting their blog posts and videos and podcasts. It was great. Initially I felt like I was diving into something new, when what actually happened was I grabbed and pulled into a familiar network. It helped the isolation.
The isolation I was experiencing was directly related to the fact that I finally settled into the professional world practicing as a music therapist with no other music therapist to relate to. I was putting all of my energy into advocating for my profession and no energy into discussing what I was doing with other music therapists. Information-sharing and sharing experiences with people who do the same thing you do is important for growth, both professionally and personally.