After the reinstatement of Lithuania’s independence, a number of important national laws were passed including the 1991 Law on the Social Integration of the Disabled, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which were ratified by the Lithuanian Parliament (the Seimas) in 1995. These documents and newly adopted provisions determined broad dissemination of social integration and psychological rehabilitation ideas with regard to certain social groups. As a result, a public context and favourable climate was created for the development of new Arts Therapies ideas in Lithuania that have promoted the uniqueness, the emotional expression, and perceptions of the human individual. This significant change has resonated in post-Soviet Lithuanian society and found wide acceptance, bearing in mind that psychological consequences of political repressions on the victims of such repressions, their family members and society have only been investigated in Lithuania since 2002.
Practical application of Art Therapy in Lithuania can be traced back to the 1980s, when psychiatrists and psychologists started showing interest in Art Therapy as an attractive and promising form of mental therapy. In 1991-93 contacts were established with the US organisation, The International Networking Group of Art Therapists, and in 1992 the Clinics of Psychiatry of Vilnius University opened the first Arts Therapy studio
Paukštė. Announcements of the Human Study Centre inviting Arts Therapy groups to attend, were posted in the journal
Psichologija Tau in 1994–96.
The setting up of art studies in rehabilitation, clinical and special education establishments opened the door for the application of Art Therapy and new areas of practice with the involvement of professional artists. This development was influenced by changes in the idea of humanistic pedagogy and the content of artistic training. However, the founders of art therapy in Lithuania lacked specialist knowledge and opportunities to share experience and this, in turn, led to the first national seminar, the Artistic Education for the Disabled which took place in 1996. In 1997, encouraged by Professor Albertas Piličiauskas from the Academy of Music, music and art teachers working with people with special needs set up non-governmental organisations, namely, the Lithuanian Association for Educational Musical Therapy - now the
Lithuanian Music Therapy Association (LUMTA) and the Lithuanian Association for Art Therapy Application (LDTTA).
A joint Masters programme in Art Therapy by the
Lithuanian University of Health Science and the
Vilnius Academy of Arts Kaunas Faculty was the first academic training in art therapy offered in Lithuania. The programme was established in June 2013 and the course philosophy and main theoretical approaches are psychodynamic in approach. Students are required to have a background at bachelor or masters level in any of the following areas: art, medicine, rehabilitation, nursing, psychology, social work, or pedagogy. The qualification awarded is a Master of Medicine and Health Care
Music, Drama, Dance Movement Therapies
Joint Music, Drama, Dance- movement Therapy Master Programmes are offered by the
University of Vilnius University and the
Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. The Music Therapy programme was established in September 2015, and is the first in Lithuania to provide music therapy training (see:
Music, art, dance, and drama therapists are health care professionals whose profession is approved and recognised by the
Ministry of Health (see:
https://e-seimas.lrs.lt/portal/legalAct/lt/TAD/6dc154012fd811eb8c97e01ffe050e1c?jfwid=q8i88mcob) and Art Therapy is applied in therapeutic, social, educational programmes, and rehabilitation fields.
The main aim of the Lithuanian Association for Art Therapy Application (LDTTA) is to contribute to the emergence and development of the Arts Therapy profession in Lithuania by providing a forum for people working in this field, by developing the organisation, qualifications and training programmes of the profession, and by promoting and collecting specialised literature and research.
The LDTTA and LUMTA have had an important role advocating and promoting Art Therapy with the Seimas and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania since 2005. Initiatives include discussing the application of Arts Therapies in work with youth and adolescents. Another important push was for the establishment of an interdepartmental working group acting for the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania in the autumn of 2009. The result of this work was the analysis of the situation of arts therapies in Lithuania and the measures proposed, together with its annexes: a draft profile of professional activities of arts therapists’; a draft profile of professional qualification requirements for arts therapies professionals; the distribution of qualification requirements among persons willing to practice arts therapies; a draft profile of the pioneering of the art therapy profession; and a working group’s guidelines on the training of arts therapies professionals. On the 30 October 2014, the ‘Description of Professional Qualification Requirements for an Arts Therapists’ was approved by the Order of the Minister of Health of the Republic of Lithuania (see: No.V-1114
More information on the Professional Associations can be found at:
Lithuanian Art Therapy Association
Lithuanian Music Therapy Association
Lithuanian Psychodrama Union
Lithuanian Dance Movement Therapy Association
Lithuanian Arts Therapy Association
The masters Art Therapy programme consists of 120 ECTS, of which 30 ECTS are assigned for research work. Between 2013-2020, students conducted some 25 important studies, using qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research projects, and the main aim of the studies was to generate knowledge for evidence-based practice. The studies cover a wide range of areas including children and adolescents in care homes, children with autism spectrum disorder, girls who have experienced sexual abuse, adolescents undergoing rehabilitation, adults with depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, epilepsy, and disabilities.
Findings indicated that art therapy enables a better understanding of emotions and improves communication and relations; statistically significant changes were observed in emotional expressions, emotional awareness and emotional regulation. The results of the research showed that the use of art therapy for young children of school age reduced the anger of children towards oneself and helped control anger towards others. Art therapy was a valuable method of complex treatment for patients with schizophrenia and has a beneficial effect on the quality of life and health of a patient. All patients with depression felt benefit from art therapy, support from peers in the group and, in addition, recommended art therapy to other patients with depression. The positive effect of art therapy on the body self-awareness of eating disorder patients has been established: the image of a human being during the art therapy sessions was different and was perceived as a single entity, not a disassembled object. Another study revealed that art therapy helped patients with epilepsy express in art therapy the complex experiences they find difficult to speak about.
The joint master degree program in Art Therapy contributes to the development of art therapy field in the country, and educates art therapy specialists who are prepared to work and apply their knowledge and skills in various health care institutions. The research results validate the needs of the art therapy in clinical settings and contributes building evidence-based art therapy practice.