MAR President’s Forum: Let Your Voice Be Heard
(Notes that we collected during the forum)
A key theme that emerged repeatedly throughout the forum was communication. Every issue we discussed came back to lacking clear communication to members from the “top down” and no voice available for “bottom up” communication.
And along with communication was the theme of lacking transparency and how can we increase transparency in meaningful ways.
We all felt some sort of organizational structure flow chart or interactive infographic is needed because there’s a lack of understanding of the structure of AMTA and how it relates to regions. Even regional leaders often do not have a clear understanding of the structure(s). This could aid with transparency.
Board books at the national and regional levels contain so much useful information.
They should be public. But where? And how?
How can we spark membership interest to read them?
How could we highlight important content?
Networking tables at the MAR conference: have more information on who is at these tables and what they represent.
AMTA Board Meetings (particularly outside of conferences): These meetings enter executive Session (the meeting is closed to only board members) often on Saturday afternoons, when members could be present. Why not move those moments of planned executive session (such as reviewing contracts, which are planned and scheduled executive session periods) to times when members are less likely to attend (early morning or late evening)?
Concerns were voiced about the amount of time the AMTA board meetings are under executive session. Supposed to be open meetings, but seem closed.
Executive session periods decrease transparency. Does this increase suspicion and lack of involvement?
How can we increase member involvement and interest in the region and AMTA (and the board meetings)?
State associations have higher membership numbers than we do. How can we learn from them? How are they getting people in the door?
They have a more personal connection. Can we create more of those personal connections?
They offer free or low cost CMTEs with their board meetings attached.
They foster more direct relationships.
Do they do a better job of communication? Of transparency?
Perhaps members voted folks in so they wouldn’t need to attend meetings?
Perhaps the invitations are not personal enough to spark interest?
At regional business meetings, perhaps taking time to physically introduce board members and offer a brief description of their role/duties.
Personal connection increases the potential for group/larger body involvement and engagement. Have more targeted invitations and discussions.
Tap into student body to involve in regional activity. Bridge the gap between students and professionals somehow.
Provide new therapist mentorship through the region (Virginia association has a current mentorship/clinical supervision pairing program in place.)
Perhaps integrate education and engagement in the regional and national body into the internship supervisory experience to increase awareness of opportunities for new members.
Increase transparency/publicity surrounding public nature of board meetings
Offer free CMTEs (maybe ethics?) sponsored by the MAR to increase attendance and foster interest. Could rotate around the region and pair with a short meeting of important MAR/AMTA information?
A concern was voiced that AMTA is not being effective in communicating about facilitating job creation.
AMTA is currently engaging in advocacy efforts, which thereby hopefully create jobs
Conversely, there are open positions that remain unfilled, with information housed in members-only segments of the website (if one is willing to move to the open job).
However, MTs looking for employment may not have access to related information because they may not be able to afford membership and therefore do not have members only access.
Members are looking for increased public understanding of MT – an ongoing, chronic felt need
If AMTA is working towards job creation, it should be communicated more clearly because it is not being heard or felt by membership
Discussion surrounding the AMTA website was that overall it is “un-user friendly”
It is difficult for members, and public alike, to access pertinent information
Theme that kept emerging: This is our public outreach platform, and it is not public.
Website is a sizable obstacle to transparency, because you can’t find anything
Website content is created and maintained in-house.
MAR’s regional website was re-done through an external contracted source because of the size of the content, and maintenance needs. Could the AMTA outsource in order to increase accessibility and decrease time used by AMTA staff to update?
Understanding decrease in membership numbers:
How do we realistically collect information on why people are not members? (Anita Gadberry collects data from conversations with non-members as the MAR Membership Chair)
Let’s take those concerns, and pass them along to someone who is willing to hear it. But who? She has expressed that the concerns fell upon deaf ears in the past.
Maybe we should ask people individually to gather more information directly from the source, as Anita has attempted, but on a larger scale with a clear vision of where this information is housed, and for whom to address/hear.
#1 concern we hear from members/non-members: “No one will listen.”
How do we take action?
Members shared with Gabby: “People were afraid of receiving punitive responses from expressing concerns.” The group discussed why is this a feeling folks have? Where is it coming from? The concerns expressed were being “afraid of not being published or denied opportunities to present”.
“Afraid of not being published, or denied opportunity to present.”
Discussion surrounding AMTA’s blind review process, particularly related to CMTEs: there are external invitations, but blind review has been reinstated. But where has that been said to members? That was a big deal to members who voiced many concerns related to it. It would have gone a long way to have been effectively communicated to members.
Discussion surrounding [past successes, and] implications for using social media platforms that are highly populated (such as Music Therapists Unite) to facilitate direct interactions with members.
There are MANY non-members in that forum. Why isn’t AMTA using that as a jumping off point to contact non-members and hear them? Why aren’t we meeting people where they are?
Cost of membership versus value
Wondering if we need to start recognizing state chapters? Seems to be the origin of significant growth and effective structures. Could the MAR and AMTA learn from them?
#1 expressed sentiment: Financial burden of membership
Concerns expressed about the cost of paying in installments. Where is the transparency in that additional cost? Does it actually cost $5 per transaction to break up the amount, or is that a number pulled out of thin air? Could it be less? To actual cost of breaking it up into payments?
Offering fun ways to “win” membership/conference scholarships at conferences might not be the best way to reach those in need if they couldn’t afford to attend in the first place.
Push for evidence based practice, but if you’re not affiliated with a university, you don’t have access to databases that contain field-related [evidence-based] research. And membership cost is high to access MT journals. Is this the only meaningful benefit of AMTA membership? Is it worth it?
Questions were raised about financial decisions made within AMTA and how funds are allocated. Could it be more streamlined? Could it be more transparent?
Increase transparency of details surrounding what AMTA has been, and continues to, invest body of money in (lawyers, advocacy) that is in place specifically for the membership. How do we most effectively communicate the value? Members would want to know this information and it might bring aboard new members, if they felt and understood how the AMTA actually invests in the field.