European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education

Fifteenth ECArTE Conference

September 11th to 14th 2019, Alcalá de Henares, Spain

Conference title

Imagining Windmills

Trust, truth and the unknown in the arts therapies


Imaginando molinos de viento

La Confianza, la verdad y lo desconocido en las Terapias Artisticas


university of alcala front building

The Conference Directors invite you to submit proposals for papers, panel discussions, workshops, posters or performances on the conference theme.

The programme will offer the following pathways:

Art Therapy

Dance Movement Therapy


Music Therapy

Play Therapy

Education in the Arts Therapies

Call for papers has now closed

The selection processes will take place during October and November 2018

Late submissions cannot be considered by the Scientific Committee



Alcalá de Henares is a picturesque Castilian city in central Spain. It is located in the Community of Madrid, only 30 minutes by train from Madrid, and with excellent rail links with the city and its underground network. Alcalá de Henares is the birthplace of Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, arguably the greatest figure in Spanish literature and author of the universally known and immortal work Don Quixote, the most edited and translated book in history after the Bible.

Cardinal Cisneros, the Regent of Spain, founded the University of Alcalá in 1499 as a completely new educational project. It combined the best models of the traditions of that era - Paris and Salamanca - with other more innovative projects such as the universities of Bologna and Louvain. The prestige of its courses and teachers, and its founding constitutions, provided the model for the establishment of the new universities in America. In 1977, the University of Alcalá reopened its classrooms. Since then, a collective effort has led to the recovery of its intellectual, cultural and architectural heritage. The university's unique model, its historical contribution to literature and science, and the beauty and richness of its buildings led UNESCO to declare the University of Alcalá a World Heritage Site on 2nd December 1998. 

ECArTE is grateful for the warm and enthusiastic welcome, which the University of Alcalá de Henares has extended to the Consortium as the host University for this fifteenth international arts therapies conference.


university of alcala inner          logo




Imagining Windmills
Trust, truth and the unknown in the arts therapies

As always, the place of a conference is significant. Alcalá is a world heritage UNESCO site and the university is one of Europe’s longest standing universities. The University  prides itself on the humanities and the arts, and is developing its provision for training in arts therapies. The town’s symbol is the stork and these regal birds make their nests on the old ramparts, standing as omniscient sentinels over the town and its people. Storks are symbols both of longeivity and rebirth, and their presence gives a sense of otherworldliness as one wanders through their town. Alcalá is also the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, largely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language.

‘Imagining Windmills’ alludes to the famous passage in Cervantes’ masterpiece ‘Don Quixote’, in which the protaganist, on one of his missions as a knight errant, begins to attack windmills, thinking they are giants. This act, one of his many misguided adventures, reflects both hubris and an imaginal capacity, a contrast evident throughout the book and one of psychological significance. Sparked by this literary masterpiece, the conference theme invites you to wrestle with ideas of misperception and delusion, truth and trust, and the paradoxical delight and vitality brought about by Quixote’s madness and purpose. The prospect of actively imagining windmills plays with consensual reality and provokes questions of the unknown and the imagined. How does the education and practice of the arts therapies engage with the imagination as a place of multiple realities which can lead us closer to finding our truth? Picasso’s suggestion  ‘art is a lie that helps us realise the truth’, points to this capacity in art.

As the arts therapies continue to find their reach into different contexts and domains, and with an increasing desire for evidence, the theme offers opportunities to look again at the situated and culturally determined nature of knowledge. In a world in which the media increasingly manipulates and digitalises the image, how can the arts therapies offer the opportunity for the imagination and story to emerge spontaneously through the art forms of dance, drama, art and music in meaningful ways? How do arts therapies education and practice help reclaim storytelling and engage with the imaginal, building towards practices of trust and discourses of truth? 

It is of note that Cervantes wrote Don Quixote whilst in prison. His masterpiece was not conceived through looking out upon beautiful vistas, but kindled from the interior of his own being. He then turns outward to face afresh his world with all the subtelty and intricacy of a storyteller capturing the essentials of the human soul, with its capacity for adventure, inflation, idealism and purpose. And all shot through with acerbic wit, satire and mockery.

So, in the fields of art and medicine, art and psychology, the arts therapies, how do we conceive of truth? Are there multiple truths, in a postmodern bricolage of social construction, or an essential truth and experience of Self which transcends these concerns? And how do we consider trust? How is it transmitted, cultivated, broken? And how do trust and truth relate to the as yet unformed, the unconscious, the unknown?

So what has all this to do with imagining windmills? This call for papers, workshops, performances and posters is a call for explorations of these contemporary, yet age-old questions.

Conference formats

The conference Directors reserve the right to adjust the length of presentations only if it is felt to be to the benefit of the programme.

Normally, sessions will adhere to the following timings and structures


Paper presentations: 30 minutes

Each paper presentation will be followed by a 15 minute Question and Answer period


A workshop session should explore an element or aspect of the theme of the conference. It should be experiential and not include lengthy spoken introductions and commentaries. (Please note there is no provision for IT and PowerPoint equipment in the workshop rooms).


Abstracts for e-posters and paper posters are welcome. Presenters will be required to bring with them posters ready for display or electronic presentation.

A session will be within the programme, when poster presenters will be available to answer questions and to discuss ideas arsing from the content of their posters.


Performances should be no more than 30 minutes in length.

Please note that the conference centre can provide only minimal technical equipment to support your performance.

Presenters and workshop facilitators should avoid the repetition of work already presented at an ECArTE conference. We are seeking new and innovative proposals, which respond to the theme.

Conference registration fees

Details of how to book a place at the conference will be on the conference website, which will go live on 1st March 2019.

We are pleased to inform you that Conference Registration Fees will be:

Received before 1st May  2019              400 EUR

Received by 31st August  2019              450 EUR

Students                                                  200 EUR

Retired                                                     250 EUR

Member Representatives of ECArTE = 200 EUR  (one Member Representative per Member Institution)

Global and Regional Representatives of ECArTE = 350 EUR (or 300 EUR if booking before 1st May 2019) 

Conference presenters are required to pay their fee by 1st May 2019


All enquiries to:

The Conference Office email: or through the 'Contact Us' section on the website.


University of alcala architecture


Conference Directors

Chair: Richard Hougham

Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, United Kingdom

Vice-Chair:  Marián López Fernández Cao

University Complutense of Madrid, Spain

Treasurer: Jan Vandromme

PXL University College, Belgium

Coordinator: Jaap Welten

Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands

Local Organizing Committee

Leader of local organising committee: Carmen Alcaide Spirito, University of Alcalá.

Elena García Esteban, University of Alcalá

David Gamella González, University Center Cardenal Cisneros

Marta Lage de la Rosa, University of Comillas

Marta Herráiz Portillo, Instituto E. S. Buero Vallejo de Guadalajara

Scientific Committee

Chairs: Margaret Hills de Zarate, Queen Margaret University

            Uwe Hermann, The Berlin Weissensee School of Art

Paper review group

Celine Schweizer, Gabi Schmid, Alexandra Hopf, Esa Ala-Ruona

Moderation group

Margaret Hills de Zarate, Nicki Wentholt, Uwe Hermann, Esa Ala-Ruona and Salvo Pitruzzella