Legislative Advocacy 101
Whether you are active in legislative advocacy or not, you have legislators that represent you at both the state and national level. Since GAMFT is a state organization, we’re going to focus on the laws and legislative action in Georgia.
A legislators job is to represent their constituents — so they need to hear from you! That means a big part of legislative advocacy is contacting your state senators and representatives and asking for their support on causes that are important to you.
Our state legislators meet for a “session” of no longer than 40 total days. That means there is a short period every year during which a lot happens. The legislative session runs from January through late March or early April, depending on multiple factors that can influence the schedule on a given year.
We are currently in the 2022 legislative session, and your timing is just right to start getting involved and make an impact this year.
How to Get Started with Advocacy
Step 1: Find your legislators
- Go to openstates.org
- Under “Find Your Legislators,” type in your Georgia address and click search.
- Two names should appear. One is your Representative to the State House of Representatives and one is your Senator to the State Senate.
- Click on their names to find their contact information.
Step 2: Introduce yourself
- Obtain their email address and/or phone numbers from openstates.org
- Reach out! Introduce yourself as a Mental Health provider in Georgia, and a member of GAMFT. Your initial outreach can be general, using the script below:
Hello [Senator X or Representative Y],
My name is [your name here] and I am [your title here: a licensed marriage and family therapist, an MFT student, an associate MFT, etc] in your district. I wanted to reach out to introduce myself and let you know that our organization, the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, is working hard to advocate for issues that impact mental and behavioral health services for Georgians during this legislative session. We hope to have your support and will be back in touch soon.
[Your name & title here]
Step 3: Start advocating for mental health causes
- If you are not already receiving emails from GAMFT, contact us and tell us you’d like to be on our email list.
- Keep an eye out for our emails throughout the legislative session. Timing is important on these things, so we’ll tell you when to reach out, who to contact, and even give scripts and tips about what to say.
- You can also visit our action center for up to date action requests from the GAMFT legislative committee.
Step 4: If/when you receive a response
- Our legislators get countless messages, and you likely will not receive a personal response.
- If you do, please continue to be polite and professional in your communication.
- Remember, if they happen to ask questions, it’s okay to not know all the answers. You can politely let them know you are seeking answers to their questions and will get back to them promptly.
- You’re not alone in this! Feel free to reach out to GAMFT at any time if you have issues or questions during this process.