Within our Mid-Atlantic Region of the USA (including the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and West Virginia), music therapy is more publicly recognized than ever before. Yet also within our region, the field continues its dynamic process of negotiating its own identity, in the midst of a diverse array of perspectives and worldviews. At the same time, there has been a growing emphasis on strengthening community, enriching dialogue, and including the voices of all music therapists as part of shaping the future development of our discipline and profession.
In the Mid-Atlantic Region, with an ever-expanding range of populations served by music therapy, a growing base of music therapy theories and practices, and an increasing number of training programs offering basic and/or advanced degrees in music therapy, the profession is challenged to achieve greater and greater clarity on the various dimensions of competency in music therapy. Simultaneously, as we study what we do, our ways of conceptualizing music therapy research have become increasingly progressive and multifaceted, embracing a greater and greater scope of philosophical orientations and theoretical paradigms (even as some of our older debates continue, such as the relative virtues of quantitative and qualitative research). Many of us are also working to shift the perception of music therapy research away from something done by privileged few in "ivory towers," and toward something that is accessible (and fundamentally beneficial) to all.
As an extension of our evolving identity and our growing voices, our region has recently become the epicenter of several emerging gender-based discourses on music therapy, including a recent movement in Feminist music therapy that originated here, as well as the beginnings gender-centered dialogues among male music therapists. Music therapy students and new professionals have also mobilized collective efforts to strengthen their own identity and community through the annual Passages conference (originating in the New England Region, now in its fifth year within the Mid-Atlantic Region).
A considerable portion of our region's time and resources has been devoted to ongoing work in the area of government relations. The needs and voices of music therapists in our region continue to fuel and drive our various Task Forces on Occupational Regulation, presently active in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. As various state laws, regulations, and levels of public recognition develop and shift, it is our shared concern that qualified music therapists remain able to continue providing their services to the public. Ongoing collaboration among the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Music Therapy Association (MAR-AMTA), the national American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), and the national Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) has also helped to support and strengthen this work, which has included enlisting the services of several paid legislative consultants. The MAR-AMTA has also been developing new ways to help raise public awareness about music therapy (aimed at a broad audience), and its role in contributing to the health of individuals and communities. Moreover, it is worthy of note that the 2008 regional conference is situated in the state of New Jersey, where much of the region's government relations energy has been focused recently. Thus, as our conference emphasizes the significance of community (by drawing heavily upon the direct involvement of the local music, health care, and music therapy personnel and organizations), it also presents a wonderful opportunity to strengthen the public impression of music therapy within New Jersey, at a critical time.
A testament to the present strength of our region's community, and how we are able to use adversity as an opportunity to build upon this strength, can be appreciated in our collective response to the April, 2007 shooting rampage by a lone gunman at the Virginia Tech College campus (Blacksburg, Virginia), that left over thirty people dead. Following these tragic events, music therapy faculty at nearby Radford University worked together with the MAR-AMTA to provide the community-based resources for support and healing through music. In fall, when students returned to campus, students and others participated in a campus-wide drum circle to play, dance, chant, and focus on empowerment together. In addition, the Radford Music Therapy Student Organization has provided monthly drumming experiences within which all can dialogue, express, be heard, and be witnessed.
The Mid-Atlantic Region is vibrant and creative, representing a vital force both specifically within the music therapy field, and generally across the region's cultures and societies. In many ways, the region is situated right at the "heart of the action" with respect to many of the field's major historical developments. Many of us in our region agree that it is indeed an auspicious and exciting time to be here, as music therapists.
For additional information, please visit:
Abrams, Brian (2007) The State of Music Therapy in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country/monthusa_december2007