25 September 2018
In South Africa, the Music Therapy training program was established at the University of Pretoria in 1999 by Mercedes Pavlicevic and Kobie Swart. In the same year the Arts Therapies (Music Therapy, Art Therapy, Drama Therapy, Dance/Movement Therapy) became registered professions with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. To date 10 student groups have been trained, with another two groups currently being trained, bringing the numbers of Music Therapists in South Africa to approximately 60. We have trained a student from Namibia, who returned home and pioneered the registration of Music Therapy with the Namibian Health Professions Council. A recent graduate of the program hails from Zimbabwe and we currently have a student from Zambia. South African music therapists belong to the South Africa Music Therapy Association who advocate for and support music therapy, as well as offering continued professional development activities.
In response to our context and our process of expanding access to music therapy training in South Africa, the UP Music Therapy department developed an honours level programme in music communication. This caters for arts and music practitioners who are implementing innovative models in diverse contexts including work with refugees, work with gangs and victims of violence, community music projects and diversity management. Some of our students are also pioneering innovative work in the corporate wellness environment.
While the numbers of therapists may seem small compared with other music therapy communities internationally, it is fair to say that the development of the field in South Africa has produced much depth in its offerings. The University of Pretoria currently offers one of the only music therapy programmes on the continent of Africa and hopes to support the pioneering of music therapy training in other African countries.
We believe the hosting of the world congress in South Africa will signal the profession’s coming of age and bolster efforts in providing multiple platforms for the promotion and development of music therapy and the arts therapies in the country and continent.