Art has beneficial effects in the emotional, affective and mental sphere of people, but it is also beneficial as a means of intervention and social inclusion in different areas. Since, as the film director David Lynch believes, “art does not change anything, art changes you.” Aware of the benefits that it possesses for people to achieve their well-being, in 1999, the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) incorporated training in Art therapy as its own degree, developing an interuniversity program together with the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) and the University of Valladolid. These studies were already implemented in many European countries, as well as in the US Currently, several Spanish universities offer it as their own degree; this is the case of those of Valencia, Seville, Girona or Barcelona.

With the implementation of the Bologna Plan, the first promotion of the master’s degree, now official, begins in 2010, with a duration of two years. María del Río, director of the Department of Artistic, Plastic and Visual Education of the UAM and an art therapist, points out that “it is an official postgraduate degree, with a professional and research nature, which aims to train professionals capable of designing, developing and implement art therapy programs adapted to different contexts and artistic education programs aimed at social inclusion ”.

Who was the director of the master’s degree at the UCM from 2010 to 2014, Marián López Fernández Cao, professor of Art Education at the Complutense University, representative of the master’s degree in the European ECArTE consortium and since 2017 vice president of the consortium and also one of the founders of the himself, maintains that “art therapy is a discipline that contributes to the emotional and psychic well-being of people, while the creative process is an external organizer of internal instances. It works on the cognitive and the emotional at the same time -because it belongs to the field of art and culture-, it is involved in the interbody and, at the same time, it is a linking process, which puts our relationship with others at stake; therefore, it helps to reestablish the social relationship, our involvement as humans in society ”. Likewise, this expert continues, “like children’s play, it works in the sphere of the symbolic and the possible, the transitional space between the self and the others. And like ritual, it links us -through the aesthetic experience- with the group, reestablishing ties. All this through a friendly process, the creative process; a careful process where the person feels welcomed and sustained in their freedom and the possibility of creating and creating themselves again ”.

Marián López Fernández Cao considers that this discipline has a beneficial effect that achieves the well-being of people, “for example, in mental health: understanding mental health from a wide spectrum, from anxiety disorders, depression, stress, to the most complex ”. Likewise, the UCM professor continues, “it helps with accompanied personal exploration and self-knowledge, helping to regain levels of self-esteem and resilience. For this reason it is indicated to help people who go through a complex disease, to be able to face it. Its effectiveness has been demonstrated in humanization processes in pediatric transplant plants, where the state of mind in which the girl or boy faces an organ transplant is often decisive for its rejection or acceptance ”. And he assures that, as the report of the World Health Organization in 2019 points out, “the arts are an element to guarantee health understood as well-being”.

For the 2021-22 academic year, only the second course of the master’s degree in Art Therapy and Art Education for Social Inclusion will be offered at the Complutense University of Madrid and at the Autonomous University of Madrid. The reason is due, according to the professor of Artistic Education of the UCM, “to the fact that it has been decided, after ten years of success and demand, to improve some aspects that will reinforce some areas such as, for example, art therapy mediation work in cultural areas ”. Some improvements that will be incorporated into the new proposal that has been collected for the 2022-23 academic year.

The number of students who have taken this master’s degree since it became official exceeds 400. Given that the future work to be carried out is of an interpersonal nature and is focused on the promotion of health resources, especially in those people who are in a situation of vulnerability, the competences that students acquire are of various types. “On the one hand, artistic; know the artistic medium, the processes, the language, etc. Also personal; in relation to the capacity for introspection, self-care, stress management, artistic expression and creativity. It also includes interpersonal skills; in relation to empathy, group management, teamwork, listening and support skills. And, finally, therapeutic; in relation to processes, frames, schools, etc. ”, adds the director of the Department of Artistic, Plastic and Visual Education of the UAM.

The University of Girona, through the UdG Foundation: Innovació i Formació, also offers the Integrative Master in Art Therapy, which this year 2021-22 will complete its sixteenth edition. Miquel Izuel, psychologist and director and professor of the Postgraduate Diploma in Art therapy at the University of Girona (UdG), states that, in his case, “art therapy works, above all, with people’s emotional health. This training helps you to put another look on the world and also another listen. It is a transformative process for people ”. The objective of the master’s degree when students finish their training is, according to Miquel Izuel, that “students know how to generate the conditions so that people can put their creative capacities into play and see the transforming capacity of art”.

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