Résumé of the professional and educational contexts of the arts therapies


The historical background of arts therapies in the Netherlands

With the implementation of the arts within psychiatric settings in the 1950s, arts therapy courses slowly started to be developed. In the 1970s, several Bachelor programmes were established. Owing to the structure of the Dutch educational system it was not possible to continue onto a Masters degree until the Bachelor Masters system was embraced and implemented (Bologna Declaration).  Now alongside the Bachelors several Masters have been and are being developed. All the arts therapies courses are taught within universities for applied sciences, and the duration of a Bachelor is four years full time (240 ECTS).  Master courses can have between 60 and 120 ECTs.


Training courses

There are seven universities for applied sciences that offer training in arts therapies across the country:

NHL Stenden in Leeuwarden

Artez in Enschede

HAN in Nijmegen

Hogeschool Zuyd in Heerlen

Hogeschool Utrecht in Amersfoort

Codarts in Rotterdam

Hogeschool Leiden in Leiden


Several universities collaborate in centres for research (see under each university for more information) and some are currently developing a joint masters. One of these research centres is KenVak, the joint venture of four universities.

It is possible to study at the level of both BA, MA and there is the possibility of a PhD, but not every university can offer all these levels.  All the arts therapies are offered but not every university offers them all.


Professional associations

There are four professional arts therapies associations, one for each modality:

Art- Nederlandse Vereniging Beeldende Therapie (NVBT)

Dance: Nederlandse Vereniging voor Danstherapie (NVDAT)

Drama: Nederlandse Vereniging Dramatherapie (NVDT)

Music:  Nederlandse Vereniging Muziektherapie (NVMT)

These associations, together with the association for psychomotor therapy, are grouped under the umbrella of a federation named Federatie Vaktherapeutische Beroepen (FVB) . The Association for Anthroposophic based Arts Therapies (Art, Music, and Speech & Drama Therapy), the  NVKT, is currently negotiating cooperation with the Federation. The professional associations support therapists by organising and offering activities, workshops and courses for continuous professional development (CPD). They work to develop protocols and modules for clinical settings, and set standards for professional practice.

The Federation serves the joint interests of all the arts therapies with, for instance, governmental organizations, healthcare and insurance companies or educational programmes, and helps to further development within the professional field. There is  a code of ethics and a procedure for complaints in place. A journal for the arts therapies is published four times per year.

There is a separate body for registration, called Stichting Register Vaktherapeutische Beroepen, where arts therapists, with a Diploma from one of the acknowledged and government-accredited programmes can register on junior or senior level after fulfilling additional requirements. (These requirements are: membership of one of the arts therapies associations, five years working experience of minimum 16 hours per week, supervision, and a certain number of credits for CPD.) The level of registration is decided by level of Diploma, Masters or Bachelor. Re-registration is required after five, then seven and eventually ten years.  For this one needs proof of a certain amount of supervision and CPD.