Résumé of the professional and educational contexts of the arts therapies


The professional context of arts therapies in Germany

The first art therapeutic approaches in Germany developed in the 1920s and 1930s in the contexts of anthroposophic orientated medicine and the integration of art in psychiatric treatment. The development of active music therapy can be situated in the time period after the Second World War. Nowadays there exist courses of study at an academic level for art therapy, music therapy and, from 2012, for dance movement therapy also (Heidelberg). The first discipline which was established at an academic level was music therapy in the 1970s, followed by art therapy in the 1980s.


There is no state regulation in respect of the professional recognition of an art or music therapeutic service whose costs are covered by health insurances (as is the case with medical care). As art therapists are characterised as auxiliary healing professionals and not as healing professionals there is consequently still no legally protected and independent status for this profession.

Since the 1970s a number of professional associations have formed. The largest of them is the Deutscher Fachverband für Kunst- und Gestaltungstherapie e.V. (German Professional Association for Art Therapy and Creative Therapy, DFKGT). With regard to music therapy the largest association is the Deutsche Musiktherapeutische Gesellschaft (DMtG). In 2008 the German associations came together to form the BAG (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Künstlerischer Therapien), which is the National Association for Arts Therapies including art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, movement therapy and theatre therapy. Their aim is to work together toward a standard of arts therapies education and toward a professional profile of arts therapists in Germany. They aim to initiate a legal provision as healing professions. The policy still aims at full professional recognition.

The BA and MA programmes at state recognized universities are officially recognized as accredited courses of study by the ministries. Art and music therapists are allowed to practise in clinics etc.. Under the law for Psychotherapy (1998) psychologists and pedagogics with psychotherapist training (mainly with a psychoanalytic or behavioural orientation) may work as independent practitioners. Nevertheless, the attending physician remains responsible and the arts therapist operates under his/her supervision. This does not apply to the wider field of therapeutic measures taken within education, counselling, prevention, rehabilitation, integration of marginal groups etc.

Academic education

Art therapy can be studied in Germany at different institutions and under different labels (art therapy/ art and creative therapy/ creativity therapies). It is based on different theoretical and methodological foundations (psychoanalysis, Gestalt therapy, anthroposophy, learning and behavioural theories, etc) and on different organisational practices.

The training of art therapists is mainly an academic one and takes place within bachelor and masters programmes either at universities or universities of applied sciences (e.g. Nürtingen, Ottersberg, Hamburg) or at art academies (e.g. Kunsthochschule Weissensee, Berlin, Alanus Hochschule für Kunst und Gesellschaft, Alfter).  It is studied either as an additional qualification (Berlin and Hamburg), as a specialisation, or as a foundation course (Nürtingen, Ottersberg).  Further professional training parallel to one’s own occupation is offered at, for example, the private Fritz-Perls-Academy (Hückeswagen). So far there exists no academic training for dramatherapy in Germany.

The training of music therapists takes place mainly in postgraduate courses at several universities or universities of applied sciences, e.g. in Augsburg (M.A.), Berlin (M.A.), Frankfurt am Main (M.A.), Münster (M.A.) or Heidelberg (B.A./M.A.).

The conditions for admission to studies in arts therapies at universities and universities of applied sciences are normally the Abitur, or the Fachgebundene Hochschulreife, or a first academic degree for the masters programmes. According to the process arising from the Bologna Declaration the duration of the bachelor programmes is three years (180 ECTS, currently not existing) or four years (240 ECTS), and the duration of master programmes is from one to two years (60 to 120 ECTS). The character of the professional education depends on the existing charts of study and examination rules applying to every institution.

Professional fields of work

According to the DFKGT's occupational field analysis of 2016, 57.9% of arts therapists worked independently, 60,2% in clinics and other institutions, 18,1% are working independently and as employees as well. 68% of employees and 22% of the self-employed work in clinical institutions. 26.2% of all Arts Therapists taking part in the survey are working in child and youth welfare (according to Social Code Book VIII) and 22.9% are working in rehabilitation and aftercare of disabled people (according to Social Code Book V and XI).  According to the development of research in the field of arts therapies, clinics, rehabilitation institutions and counselling authorities register a growing demand for non-medical therapies using artistic-creative media. There is also a growing demand in social fields and schools.



Ottersberg: University of Applied Sciences 
Berlin: Weissensee School of Art
Hamburg: MSH Medical School Hamburg
Alfter: Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences