Appeals: European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education (ECArTE)

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The Independent Online
A drawing by Stjepan, a 12-year-old boy from Slavonski Brod, in former Yugoslavia, of children being forced to leave his home town. It was produced as part of a programme of art therapy organised by the European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education (ECArTE) in conjunction with Unicef for war-traumatised children in the country, encouraging them to express their experiences through art, writes Diana Matthewman. ECArTE is a registered charity which promotes training and research into the use of the arts in work with people suffering from illness, disability or trauma. Its third annual conference will begin on 14 September in Ferrara, Italy, and it is appealing for pounds 2,000 to offer conference bursaries to workers from Eastern and Southern Europe.

ECArTE was founded in 1991 to co-ordinate the promotion of arts therapies, and now represents 16 European universities. The value of arts therapies in supplementing traditional forms of medical treatment is increasingly acknowledged both professionally and academically. Psychotherapists, psychiatrists and specialists in art, drama, music and dance are trained to encourage the use of these expressive arts, to improve quality of life and mental health. In Britain, the Netherlands and Denmark, arts therapies are recognised as specialist health professions, and are growing in influence througout Europe. The consortium aims to strengthen this influence through the international exchange of staff and students. It also works to ensure that courses in arts therapies are provided in higher education and to promote academic research into methods of practice.

Previous projects have included work in Israel and Northern Ireland, as well as schemes within Britain and former Yugoslavia. In a screening of children in Bosnia in 1993, 45 per cent thought they would die or be killed in the conflict. Staff in schools, kindergartens and primary health centres have been trained to assist specialists in providing psychological help for such children. The European conference will provide an opportunity to present the results of this year's schemes, and exchange and improve methodology. Some workers have no access to funds, and the charity hopes to provide the means for them to attend the conference.

For further information, contact: ECArTE European Conference Office, University of Hertfordshire, 7 Hatfield Road, St Albans A11 3RS, telephone 0707 285300.

Drawing from I Dream of Peace (HarperCollins / Unicef, pounds 8.99)

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