Am I An Advocate?

How we view the world is changing – more people are waking up to the inequities and unsustainability of how we live.

You’re likely reading this page because you:

  • Need to advocate for yourself
  • Need to advocate on behalf of someone else
  • Believe strongly in promoting change that benefits of a specific group of people

If this is you, welcome! You’ve come to the right place.

five human hands on brown surface what is advocacy

What is Advocacy?

You’ve likely heard the term “advocate” when you were speaking up on behalf of someone else or a perhaps to promote an idea or cause you believed in.

Advocacy is the act of promoting the interests of a person or group of people.

This includes activities such as:

  • Questioning the current situation
  • Promoting the need for change
  • Collaborating with others
  • Supporting, defending, and pleading for rights to be upheld
There are also three types of Advocacy:

  • Self-Advocacy – You speak on behalf of your needs, views and preferences.

  • Individual Advocacy – You are speaking on behalf of someone else’s needs, views, preferences.

  • System Advocacy – You are speaking on behalf of the specific needs of a larger population.

What is the Role of An Advocate?

Advocates support you as you:
Gather, understand, and process the information and advice you receive from others (AgeUK).

This means Advocates:

  • Listen and help you define your views, interests, wishes, and preferences.

  • Provide you with all of your options including your rights.

  • Guide you to information and resources that answer your questions.

  • Support you in your journey toward becoming more confident in self-advocating.

Advocates will not:

  • Give you their personal opinion.
  • Tell you what to do.
  • Make decisions on your behalf.
  • Solve your problem for you.
  • Judge you or your decision.

Who Are Advocates?

Anyone can be an Advocate, including you. When you speak up regarding your needs, views, and preferences you are engaging in self-advocacy.

When you do this on behalf of someone else, you are acting as an Advocate.

There are several types of Professional Advocates who have specialized skills and experience to advocate on behalf of specific groups of people.

Advocates also often confused with other types of more common professions. Learn more about who Advocates are and who they aren’t below.

Common Types

A Patient Advocate works with patients to ensure that their needs are met and rights are respected. Many hospitals have Patient Advocates on staff who can advocate on behalf of hospitalized patients. Independent Patient Advocates are also available to assist patient inside the hospital system and support them in the outpatient care environment.

Patient Advocates can ensure that patients have a clear understanding of their health condition, legal rights in the care setting, insurance and at work and provide referrals to additional information and resources that may help the patient feel more confident in their healthcare decisions.

Patient Advocates can be licensed professionals such as an R.N. or M.D., they can be Board Certified Patient Advocates or they can be individuals with specific skills and experience that enable them to advocate for their clients.

Only Board Certified Patient Advocates or those who are members of certain Patient Advocate Associations have signed a Code of Ethics related to Patient Advocacy.

Special Education Advocates work with a guardian(s) and the school system to ensure that school-based interventions and services are implemented according to specific laws.

Commonly found in family law cases or in other specialized areas of law, legal advocates work with you to ensure that your legal rights are honored and respected. The also often act as a liaison between their client and other legal-related parties.

Advocate vs.

Advocates who are advocating at the systems level often are misidentified as Activists.

Advocates promote change on behalf of a person, group, or organization. They listen and work toward finding solutions to specific issues and concerns.

Activists strive to create political or social change (or movements). They use their voice to raise awareness of specific issues or concerns that impact a broader population.

For instance, an Advocate may work to offer free books to an underserved community. Whereas an Activist would be raising awareness about the importance of literacy and how it impacts this community.

The primary function of an Advocate is to listen and guide. Advocates may provide some forms of coaching as a means of support and encouragement but Advocates are not coaches.

The idea of a “coach” has many meanings but generally it’s defined as someone who provides a path to achieve a specific goal and works with their client to achieve it.

  • A health coach instructs their client on what healthy choices they need to make to improve their health.
  • A fitness coach prescribes a program that improves the fitness level of their client.
  • A career coach recommends specific steps that a job seeker needs to do advance their career.

Advocates do not tell you what to do, where to go, or how to achieve a specific goal.

Advocates:

  • Ask you questions and listen to your answers.
  • Discuss your options and remind you of your rights.
  • Guide you to resources and information

All with the purpose of helping you find your own sense of direction.

Once you find it, we teach you how to communicate your needs, views, and preferences with others so that they can be respected.

Advocates at the systems-level are promoting change for a specific group, population or organization.

Whereas, lobbyists work to influence Congress, Government, or public officials to pass certain laws benefiting the lobbying group’s special interest.

Consultants are generally known for providing advice and recommendations regarding a particular situation or problem. They provide an analysis of your situation and their recommendations for how you should proceed.

Advocates do not advise or recommend. Instead, Advocates ask you questions, they guide and direct you to information and resources to help you make informed decisions, so that you feel confident navigating your path on your own.

Looking for an Advocate?

Working with an Advocate means connecting with a partner for your journey. We may walk just a stretch together before you can navigate the rest on your own, or we can spend more time navigating an unknown territory.

Think of me as your Guide – someone who shares information, resources, and expertise with you but respects your right to make decisions. As an Advocate, I am someone who meets you right where you are and we walk down YOUR path together. 

Book an Ask an Advocate session and get your questions answered.

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