The Arts Therapies originated in Belgium at a time when many parallel developments occurred in healthcare. After the Second World War, the influence of the biomedical model in mental health started to grow, leading to a major counter reaction in the 1960s. At that time, graduated artists started using art forms in numerous psychiatric facilities.
These pioneers thus introduced an art approach into these facilities. While doing so, they received training in psychopathology within the institution, which turned their work into a fully-fledged form of therapy. The therapeutic effect of practising an art form became clear, giving this form of therapy more recognition within the therapeutic landscape alongside the verbal forms of therapy.
Influenced by this pioneering work, occupational therapists and nurses also introduced the use of art within psychiatry with an artistic purpose on the one hand and a work-based goal on the other. These two movements, that of the graduated artists and that of the occupational therapists who used artistic activities, indicated a great need for appropriate training.
A large number of art therapists in Belgium started to follow an (additional) bachelor's degree in the Netherlands. Since the end of the 1990s, an advanced course in Arts Therapy has been established at the
Artevelde University of Applied Sciences Ghent and the
PXL University of Applied Sciences in Hasselt.
The BVCT-ABAT (the Belgian Association for Arts Therapy – Belgische Vereniging voor Creatieve Therapie - Association Belge d'Arts Thérapies) was established in 2009. BVCT-ABAT aims to develop and support the promotion of quality in the professional practice of arts therapists, to provide information about arts therapy, to collaborate with organizations that pursue a related goal, both nationally and internationally, and to promote the interests of its members, insofar as they relate to their profession as a creative therapist.
The professional association BVCT-ABAT has put forward an ethical code for arts therapists. It is currently developing a register for arts therapists. By registering, arts therapists indicate that they are committed to meeting quality requirements.
More information on the Professional Association can be found at:
Research related to arts therapy is done within the different universities. Within this, the link with creative practice of the arts therapist is often central.