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).  The professional standard of a creative arts therapist (level 7, specialisations in visual art therapy, music therapy and dance movement therapy) was developed in cooperation between the Estonian Society of Creative Arts Therapies, Estonian Society of Music Therapy and the Department of Arts Therapies of TU and approved by the Estonian Qualifications Authority in 2014. The professional standard of a music therapist (level 6 and 7) was developed by the Estonian Music Therapy Society and was approved by the Estonian Qualifications Authority in 2015.

Creative arts therapies degree courses

Tallinn University is the only university in Estonia offering academic degree in the arts therapies. In 2007 a three-year bachelor’s degree course (180 ECTS) and a two-year master’s degree course (120 ECTS) in Arts Therapies were launched. Since 2014 only the two-year master’s course with three specializations in music therapy, visual art therapy, dance movement therapy is offered under the study area of psychology and behavioural sciences at the School of Natural Sciences and Health, students acquire the degree of Master of Science in Health Sciences. The study programme has been aligned with the professional standard of a creative arts therapist. The external evaluation of the Health Care Study Programme Group in 2014 and the international quality assessment of the program in 2017 were successful and confirmed that the curriculum is in accordance with the requirements. 


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 and the longer training courses at the Music Therapy Center, Tallinn.


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 movement therapy

The number of professional dance movement therapists and a circle of specialists involved in the therapeutic application of dance and movement is increasing. The training activity is concentrated at Tallinn University, where DMT specialization at Master`s level and short-term introductory courses (since 2014) are offered. The collaboration with specialists form abroad (Latvia, the UK, the Netherlands, the U.S.A.) has played important role in training and development activity. In therapeutic work, different approaches are applied, with solution-focused orientation dominating. Dance movement therapy and it`s elements are mainly used in rehabilitation and educational setting, but also in psychiatry. In 2017 the Department of Dance Movement Therapy was created under the Estonian Society of Creative arts therapies.


Application of creative arts therapies

Creative arts therapists work for health care, mainly as supportive therapies in psychiatric treatment) and rehabilitation service provider (social and work rehabilitation), social care institutions and educational establishments and as private practitioners.



Tallinn: Tallinn University