History and background . . .
Music therapy is a contemporary profession and discipline in Greece. Over the past twenty years an increasing number of people have been trained and became certified music therapy practitioners. Today, there are approximately forty certified music therapists practicing in Greece and the profession is in a formative stage of its development. Music therapy in Greece is offered to a range of populations and settings. According to the statistics of 2008 (see Papanikolaou, 2011a), almost 60% of the music therapists work in special educational needs settings, 30-40% work in mental health, and less than 10% work in medical and hospital settings. More than 70% of music therapists practicing in Greece are part-time employed, and the majority of them are concentrated in large urban areas. Music therapy as a profession in Greece has not achieved State registration yet, and music therapy services do not form part of the official national health system.
Nevertheless, recent significant facts are contributing to the development and establishment of the profession: music therapists have managed to create posts in public hospitals and introductory music therapy modules in State Universities.
The music therapy profession in Greece is in a formative, but exciting stage of its development. Further developments on legislative, educational and research level remain crucial for the growth of music therapy as a profession and discipline. ESPEM plays a significant role in coordinating the actions needed for the development of the profession in Greece. News regarding music therapy in Greece (such as upcoming conferences and other events, publications) can be found on the website of ESPEM, as well as in the journal Approaches and its Newsletter.
Definition of Music Therapy: Music therapy in Greece (according to the standards of the Hellenic Association of Certified Professional Music Therapists, ESPEM) is defined in accordance to the official World Federation of Music Therapy definition: “Music therapy is the professional use of music and its elements as an intervention in medical, educational, and everyday environments with individuals, groups, families, or communities who seek to optimize their quality of life and improve their physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and wellbeing. Research, practice, education, and clinical training in music therapy are based on professional standards according to cultural, social, and political contexts” (WFMT, 2013: online).
Theoretical Foundations . . .
Music therapists in Greece have been trained in a range of approaches, including psychodynamic music therapy, music-centred music therapy, and Guided Imagery and Music. This range of approaches reflects the rich diversity of trainings, theoretical and professional backgrounds that music therapists in Greece bring to their practices.
Recognition and approval . . .
The Special Education Act which was ratified in October 2008 is the first (and only until today) Act in Greece which mentions music therapy as a professional title (for details see Official Journal of the Hellenic Republic, 2008). This Act outlines a series of qualifications that one needs to have in order to be employed and practice as music therapist in public special education settings. However, the Act has serious deficiencies regarding qualifications standards required, which are not in alignment with the standards set for the profession in Greece by ESPEM.
Consequently, one may be regarded as “qualified” to practice as music therapist according to the Special Education Act 2008, but may not meet the standards set by ESPEM and therefore be unable to register as a member of the Association. According to ESPEM’s constitution, a full member has to be qualified abroad from a state registered institution and this certification gives the person the right to practice in the country of qualification. Furthermore, the Act’s section that refers to music therapy has been inactive since 2008. Also, despite the ratification of the Act in 2008, music therapy has not been officially recognized as a profession by the State yet, and ESPEM is still working towards State registration (for further details regarding the Act and its impact on music therapy profession in Greece, see Tsiris 2011b).
Research and literature . . .
Research activity in music therapy is developing in Greece. Research funding is needed because the development of research in music therapy appears to be essential for the future development of the profession in Greece. Despite the lack of research, there is a Greek-based peer-reviewed journal which is dedicated to the fields of music therapy and special music education: Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education. Approaches is a biannual open access publication. Official languages of Approaches are both Greek and English: http://approaches.primarymusic.gr
- Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education (online peer-reviewed journal),http://approaches.primarymusic.gr
- Hellenic Association of Certified Professional Music Therapists (ESPEM), www.musictherapy.gr
- The proceedings of the 1st one-day conference of the Hellenic Association of Certified Professional Music Therapists (ESPEM). In the journal: Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education, Special Issue 2011,http://approaches.primarymusic.gr
Notes:  Originally, the Association was named as the Hellenic Association of Qualified Professional Music Therapists (ESKEM), but in the summer of 2009 its name changed to Hellenic Association of Certified Professional Music Therapists (ESPEM) (for details see Papanikolaou, 2011a, 2011b; Tsiris, 2011a, 2011b).
References: Official Journal of the Hellenic Democracy (2008). Law 3699 “Special Pedagogy and Education of Individuals with Disabilities or with Special Educational Needs”. 199/ vol. A’/02.10.2008.
Papanikolaou, Ε. (2011a). Salutation and introductory speech. In the proceedings of the 1st one-day conference of ESPEM. Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education, Special Issue 2011, 9-13. Retrieved fromhttp://approaches.primarymusic.gr
Papanikolaou, Ε. (2011b). Music therapy in Greece: Facts and developments. In the proceedings of the 1st one-day conference of ESPEM. Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education, Special Issue 2011, 9-13. Retrieved fromhttp://approaches.primarymusic.gr
Tsiris, G. (2011a). Music therapy in Greece: Developing indigenous knowledge and research. In the proceedings of the 1st One-Day Conference of ESPEM. Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education, Special Issue 2011, 5-6.
Tsiris, G. (2011b). Music therapy in Greece. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 06, 2011, fromhttp://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country-of-the-month/2011-music-therapy-greece
World Federation of Music Therapy (2013). What is music therapy? Retrieved on 11th October 2013, from http://www.wfmt.info/WFMT/About_WFMT.html
Professional associations . . .
The Hellenic Association of Certified Professional Music Therapists1 (ESPEM) is the official professional body of music therapists in Greece. ESPEM was founded in 2004 and since 2007 it represents the country to the European Music Therapy Confederation (EMTC) and worldwide. The main aims of ESPEM (2011) are:
- to set professional standards for music therapy in Greece (including to ensure that music therapists have appropriate qualifications for professional practice); to achieve State Registration and official recognition of the profession in Greece;
- to promote music therapy in the health, education and social care sectors;
- to promote research in music therapy;
- to provide up-to-date information to the public regarding music therapy practice and research;
- to establish and maintain a register of its members;
- to maintain a code of practice;
- to collaborate with other professional music therapy associations internationally.
ESPEM’s current committee consists of Dimitris Koukourakis (Chair / President), Pelina Evangelou (Vice President), Aris Papaspurou (Secretary), Christiana Adamopoulou (Treasurer), Despina Pagoni (Member) and Giorgos Tsiris (Representative).
Until now, ESPEM has held one national conference which took place on 13th December 2008 in Athens, Greece. The conference proceedings have been published in a Special Issue (2001) of the journal Approaches: Music Therapy & Special Music Education. Also, ESPEM has a newsletter, ‘The Press of ESPEM’, which has published four issues between 2005 and 2007, and since then it has been inactive. This newsletter was published only in Greek and its content mainly included news with regard to the Association and music therapy in Greece, as well as conference reports, book reviews and announcements of upcoming events. The Press of ESPEM was originally published in paper format, but some issues are currently available in electronic form on ESPEM’s website (www.musictherapy.gr).
Training programs . . .
Today there is no full music therapy training program at State University level in Greece. Music therapy is taught as an introductory or optional module within the wider curriculum of Music or Education University Departments. There are classes at the Department of Music Studies, Aristotle University in Thessaloniki with supervised clinical work of students and at the Department of Music Studies of the Ionian University in Corfu run by qualified music therapists. The position of Lecturer of music therapy in Special Education at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was established in 2010 and is the first official music therapy position to open in a Greek State University – a fact that paves the way for the profession’s recognition by the Hellenic State.