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Résumé of the professional and educational contexts of the arts therapies


The historical background to the arts therapies in Estonia

The history of arts therapies in Estonia goes back to the early 1980s, when

practitioners and researchers interested in the therapeutic effect of the arts converged

on Tallinn University to practise and discuss as well as organise seminars and

workshops, inviting specialists from abroad to participate. An important role in

promoting arts therapies belonged to the Medical Library of Estonia. In the 1990s an active arts therapies implementation and training courses took place at the Tallinn Psychiatric Hospital (currently the Psychiatric Clinic of the North Estonia. International events organised by Tallinn University have been of the utmost importance in the promotion of the arts therapies: an International Music Therapy Conference in 1990, which was part of the 19th World Conference of the International Society of Music Education (ISME) in Helsinki; an International Symposium on Arts Therapies Violence and Tolerance in 2004; and the ECArTE 9th European Arts Therapies Conference in 2007.

In 2004 the Estonian Society of Creative Arts Therapies was established. The society

functions as a professional society for specialists involved in the field of creative arts

therapies (visual art therapy, music therapy, dance and movement therapy and dramatherapy). Society is responsible for registration of professional creative arts therapists.


Creative arts therapies degree courses

Tallinn University is the only university in Estonia offering degree courses in the creative arts

therapies. In 2007 a three-year bachelor’s degree course (180 ECTS) and a two-year

master’s degree course (120 ECTS) in Creative  Arts Therapies with specializations in music

therapy, visual art therapy, dance and movement therapy and dramatherapy (creative

drama) were launched at the Department of Creative Arts Therapies (then Department of Applied Creativity) of the Institute of Fine Arts of Tallinn University. In 2005 Tallinn University became an associated member and in 2008 a full member of ECArTE. In collaboration with the Estonian Qualification Authority a work group of Tallinn University and Society of Creative Arts Therapies are currently working on the professional standard of a creative arts therapist.


Music therapy

In 1991-1992 the first elementary course in music therapy took place at Tallinn University with lecturers from Finland. The minor specialisation of music therapy was launched in Tallinn University in 1996. The emphasis has been on psychodynamic and humanist approaches. In receptive music therapy, vibroacoustic therapy (a method employing the effect of low frequency sound and music) has been of essential importance from the aspect of research, application and development of the equipment. In 1990 the Estonian Society of Music Therapy was founded. Since 1995 Estonia has been represented in the European Music Therapy Confederation, and since 1996 in the World Federation of Music Therapy. Beside degree courses in Tallinn University, the short-term courses of music therapy are also taught in the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.


Dramatherapy and Psychodrama

The therapeutic application of drama in Estonia relies on the principles of psychodrama. The first attempt to organise people interested in the therapeutic application of drama into society was made in 1992. The Estonian Society of Psychodrama was established in 1999. Introductory courses have taken place since 1990, full-time training courses since 1995. There are now two training establishments: Estonian Moreno Centre and Tallinn Psychodrama School.


Visual art therapy

Although the first more extensive course in visual art therapy took place only in 2004-

2005 as a collaborative project between the Estonian Society of Creative Arts  Therapies and trainers from Finland, it has rapidly developed into the most popular orientation in creative arts therapies. In therapeutic work, different approaches are applied, with the humanist-expressive and solution-focused orientations dominating. Elements of visual art therapy are also widely used in hobby education and psychosocial work with children.


Dance and movement therapy

The circle of specialists involved in the therapeutic application of dance and movement is small. The applied and training activity is mainly concentrated at Tallinn University. The orientation of solution-focused DMT and dance movement for wellbeing prevail. Therapy elements are often incorporated into dance and movement activities with children. The Association for Dance and Circus Therapy was established in 2010.


Application of creative arts therapies

There is a small number of professional creative arts therapists in Estonia as it is a new

occupation. Creative arts therapies are applied mostly in the form of rehabilitation services.

Besides that, creative arts therapies are applied as supportive therapies in psychiatric

treatment, in social care institutions and special schools. Relying on the experience of

practical work and the need for creative arts therapists in society, it is expected that the

graduates from the creative arts therapies programme will be successfully employed in the

health and social care systems, in the supportive services network of schools and

kindergartens, in children’s, youth and family work and in the wider preventive work in

the field of public health.

Tallinn: Tallinn University