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We have run two National Conferences in Romania for those working through the arts for people with special needs.
The first was held in March 2003. Click here for a report on the event
The second conference - kindly sponsored by the British Embassy of Romania - was held in November 2004 Click here for a report on the event
The 2nd National Conference
The first conference in the field of Combined Art Therapy encouraged a real communication among the people working with children and adults having special needs from the centres and NGOs from all over the country.
The results were promising: setting a national network, made up of experts in the field, who either work directly with the beneficiaries or have leading positions in the field.
The point of cohesion of the network, the newsletter IMPREUNA, managed to draw the interest of the people working in different institutions. By the help of the newsletter they shared their experience, being a role model for many people.
The conference this year intended besides the effective sharing of information and work methods or favorable contacts to consolidate the network and to centralize the existing opinions and ideas on a possible accrediting of the Art Therapist profession.
274 people registered, out of which 217 have been accepted, grouping as follows:
- 25 people from the organizing committee (FSC, Relief Fund for
Romania Opportunity Associates Romania, Action Space Mobile, Muzika
Charitable Trust) and authorities (EU Delegation, National Authority
for Disabled People, National Authority for Child’s Protection
and Adoption, MMSSF, DJAS and DGPC Bacau).
- 192 other participants.
The final number of participants in the conference was of 189 people, including the organizing committee and the representatives of different authorities.
National coverage: 78% from the whole country
(32 counties out of a total of 41counties from Romania)
NGOs coverage: 3 foreign NGOs and 52 Romanian NGOs
Special schools/ recovery centres/ placement centres coverage: 55
State institutions coverage: 20
Medical institutions coverage: 2
64% of the accepted people have jobs involving direct work with
An assessment for this purpose done during the session in plenum proved that most of the participants worked directly with people with special needs. (140 people: 12 therapists, 1 community assistant, 7 nurses, 4 social assistants, 1 counselor, 11 centre/ programme coordinators, 13 educators, 7 ergo-therapists, 2 physiotherapists, 7 kyneto-therapists, 5 education instructors, 4 schoolteachers, 3 speech-therapists, 1 social worker, 3 doctors, 6 pedagogues, 9 specialized teachers, 29 psychologists, 7 psycho-educators,1 sociologist, 1 project assistant, 3 volunteers and 3 other jobs).
19% of the selected people hold management positions and are specialized in the field (41 people: 23 managers, 4 presidents, 2 vice-presidents, 1 training coordinator, 11 heads of centres/ services)
1,8% -4 university professors
2,8%-6 artists working in the field (1 choreographer, 1 painter, 2 artists, 2 actors-working in the field)
3,2%-7 beneficiaries from Recovery Centres
The total number of disabled people attending was 11, but 4 of them have management positions in the NGOs they come from.
6,9%-15 declared no job/ position.
2,3%-5 Other jobs/ positions (they come from the organizers’ staff).
Monday, November 15
After receiving and recording the participants
The session in plenum
- Dan Rapa – Beneficiary of the Recovery and Rehabilitation Centre from Racaciuni, Bacau;
- Dana Nicolescu - Director, Opportunity Associates, Romania;
- Edward Parry - Director, Relief Fund for Romania, UK;
-Florian Salajeanu - President of the National Authority for Disabled People and representative of MMSSF;
-Elena Branaru – Representative of the National Authority for Child’s Protection and Adoption;
- Mariela Neagu - Representative of the Delegation of the European Union
- Tim Wright - Musician and therapist, Action Space Mobile, UK.
We were happy to see that the main authorities in the field answered
our invitation and sent their representatives. Unfortunately, on
objective grounds, Mr. Quinton Quayle, Ambassador
of Great Britain in Romania, could not attend the conference.
The opening of the event was done by Dan Rapa, followed by Dana Nicolescu who introduced the aims of the meeting, reminding us of the results of the first conference, which still have to be reinforced. Mrs. Nicolescu presented shortly the activity run by RFFR in Romania, introducing Edward Parry.
Edward Parry encouraged the idea of strengthening the National Arts Network that would stimulate many people using Art Therapy in their jobs towards lobby actions, solving together certain problems, which will automatically lead to an improvement in disabled people’s lives.
Mr Parry said: “The way a society deals with it's least fortunate members is how that society can best be judged... Those working with these groups are among the best a society has to show for itself”.
For a better co-operation between the different groups involved, Edward Parry said the network must remain neutral, and not be seen as being owned by any particular NGO or faction. This would lead to understandable human jealousy and a failure to partcipate by other NGOs.
The solution was to run it under the symbolic patronage of an experienced NGO, which is not involved directly in activities with the disabled people. Mr Parry said the Relief Fund for Romania would be funding the highly respected NGO training consultancy Opportunity Associates to undertake this role
Mr. Parry reminded all of us of the hardships that the staff faces working directly with their beneficiaries and of the fact that this conference will offer them a chance to improve their abilities.
Mrs. Elena Branaru presented her greetings on behalf of ANPCA, followed by the introduction of our initiative to develop Art activities for disabled people, an approach in accordance with the stipulations of internal and international laws in the field. She considered that a conference on this theme is more than welcome, helping to join the experts in the field.
Mr. Salajeanu transmitted his message of supporting the initiatives in the field of Combined Art Therapy for disabled people. As president of ANPH, he expressed his opinion that the methods used by the ones working in the field can bring positive changes in the disabled people’s lives, especially those living in institutions and such procedures meet the ANPH desire halfway, because ANPH is permanently seeking new ways of solving various problems.
Mrs. Mariela Neagu mentioned that the EU standards accept and encourage the methods based on Art Therapy and that a national network would support to a large extent the spirits of the people working in the field, as theirs is a harsh work and the results may appear only in the course of time.
The opening of a more practical part of the conference was done by Tim Wright, who introduced us into a typical atmosphere using a colorful speech and a song.
The workshops then took place.
After the workshops, all the participants were invited to have dinner.
Tuesday, November 16
The participants have been looking forward to attending the workshops on day 2, and the activities went really well.
During lunch, there was a short performance run by 15 children, beneficiaries of a Complex of Community Services from Onesti that the participants enjoyed a great deal. There were 2 traditional Romanian dances and a modern one.
The festive dinner was a success and involved besides Gabriel Magureanu, Tim Wright, Vali Racila and Daniel Hristea some of the participants as well. The audience encouraged the interpreters and seized the opportunity to create bonds. We have enjoyed once more the artistic contribution of one of the beneficiaries from CRRN Gasteni, Stefan Bran.
Wednesday, November 17
Unfortunately, on the last day of the conference we have been forced by circumstances outside our control to reduce the time allocated to the session in plenum. This affected the rhythm of the speeches to a large extent; some of the speakers, although asked to synthesize their presentations, did not manage to frame within the time limit.
We succeeded in rendering a significant period of time for debates, but unfortunately there were few interventions or some of the participants were too shy to express their opinions in public. The Questionnaire is thus extremely relevant, being an encouraging way of expressing opinions. (See Appendixes)
The debates focused on emphasizing the need for Combined Art Therapy, some of the speakers having been asked questions by the audience regarding the results of their work or the professional context that they need to develop their activity. There was a unanimous agreement as for the idea of a detailed research of the various needs of the institutions all over the country, of the staff organization.
An interesting intervention was that of the ANPCA representative who underlined that she was supporting us in everything we want to achieve and that the methods we use are very good. She mentioned that the interest of the participants and the examples showing their work with the beneficiaries bear witness of a general trend of using Combined Art Therapy.
You may find more details on the participants’ suggestions as regards the various aims of the conference within the annex with Questionnaire Report.
The participants’ contributions to the sessions in plenum
followed entirely the aim of the conference: there was a thorough
presentation of working methods based on at least one form of Combined
Art Therapy. A percentage of 80% consisted of interesting and entertaining
speeches, using pictures and films to render the progress of some
beneficiaries or to prove the fact that there is an increasing number
of people who focus on these methods in institutions. Obviously,
there have been also formal presentations, though few.
Click here for details on the speeches.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Rodica Atanasoae, from “Pentru Voi” Timisoara, could not attend the session in plenum on the last day, being the only speaker who did not deliver her speech.
The speech delivered by Oana Miron , a beneficiary of ‘Trebuie” organization and Adrian Tabol’s film , a beneficiary of CRRN Gasteni have been the most successful speeches, which proved that they are different from the negative pattern still imposed by the society.
Finally, there was a presentation of the conclusions of the conference, based on the analysis of the questionnaire. Unfortunately, there was not enough time for more detailed debates.
The participants were invited to lunch, allowing a continuation of debating the topics introduced during the session in plenum. Many participants contacted us to express their thanks and to give positive feedback about the conference.
After the coffee break there was the first session of simultaneous
workshops where the participants were divided in groups, which helped
them find their way to the other workshops from day 2.
*We have been pleasantly impressed by some official representatives’ attendance to the workshops and we may mention that the disabled people have been actively involved as well.
All the coordinators of the workshops were pleased with the way their activities have been organized and with the rooms offered by the hotel.
The attendance was satisfying on an average of 45 people per workshop, which enabled the fluency of the activities and the chance of working with small groups of people.
The participants were content with the variety of the workshops, though they expressed their regret of not being able to attend all of them. We presented the participants the initial attempt to run each workshop 4 times, but they understood the technical impossibility of achieving that attempt. Moreover, the time allocated to each session of workshops was convenient not only for the coordinators but also for the participants.
As mentioned before, the exhibition took place in the hotel hall, having enough tables and panels. To the exhibition contributed 11 NGOs, including the NGO s from UK. Most of the exhibitors brought pictures and works done by the beneficiaries, some of them on sale, and other presentation materials of the belonging organizations.
The exhibition was open constantly and the participants showed themselves very interested in the materials exhibited. The exhibitors also had at their disposal a TV set and a Video.
The central mass media (TVR1, PRO TV, Antena 1 - main televisions from Romania) answered our invitation and came on the second day of the conference, during the workshops.
There was a complete interview of the following participants: Dana Nicolescu from Opportunity Associates Romania, Brenda Norreys from Muzika Charitable Trust and Fanel Bran, beneficiary. The interviews showed some images from the workshops as well. The core idea of the interview was the supporting of Combined Art Therapy methods.
- The registering of the participants went on without any complications and within time limits. The late-comers benefited from a constant assistance given by the members of the registering committee.
Weak points -None
- The location: according to the feedback given by the participants and by the coordinators of the workshops; the hotels suited the unfolding of the event (the size and the equipment of the rooms, location, circuit, access).
Weak points – An outside route between the two locations.
- Accommodation: the Sinaia hotel provided us with very comfortable rooms; the meals have been served professionally, the food being of high quality.
Weak points -None
- The event: on a 90% percentage, the event was well organized. There was a large range of workshops, encouraging the attendance of more Romanian people working in the field, the participation and effective involvement of the disabled people (in the workshops and in other activities), supporting the participants from all over the country in view of sharing the personal opinions and approaches in the field, either informally or by exhibitions or speeches in sessions in plenum. The event encouraged the socialization among the participants and the setting up of contacts and friendships.
- The impossibility of taking part in all the workshops, the last moment changes (imposed on us by the hotels), which affected the speeches in plenum on the last day of the conference and reduced the time allocated to final debates and feedback.
The results of the conference are satisfying considering the following:
- the participants assimilated various information by attending the workshops.
- the disabled people had the opportunity to experience new methods and to contribute at exemplifying the efficiency of Art Therapy .
- there were important authorities present at the conference who assured us of their support in everything we want to achieve from now on. More appealing was the fact that these authorities took part effectively in the workshops.
- there were several debates on the network and the Art Therapist profession, the first steps to follow would be to achieve a thorough research on the jobs in this field and to set up the best approach as regards this problem in the long run (see the questionnaire).
Analysis Report on the Questionnaires
“Together through Art for People with Disability”
Sinaia, November 15 -17, 2004
The questionnaire was meant to assess the participants’ opinions regarding different aspects of the event. It was distributed inside the conference pack and each participant had to fill it in and hand it at dinner time on the day II of the conference.
The participants have been assured of the confidentiality of their
answers (the questionnaires have not been signed).
The objectives of the questionnaire:
1) Testing the participants’ opinions regarding the National Romanian Community Arts Network:
- the membership degree within the network;
- the participants’ opinion on the activity developed by the network ( the way the network represents their interests);
- the way in which the participants supported the activity developed by the network, as well as new ways of involvement in the future;
- possibilities of carrying on with the activities.
2) Finding out the participants’ opinions as regards the name of “art therapist” and finding other possible names for the job (unless the suggested name is not the proper one for most of the participants);
3) Testing the opinion as concerns the necessary training (the length of time, the fields that the training should cover);
4) Accrediting the job and setting standards in the field of combined art therapy;
5) Feedback as regards the structure of the conference:
- If the conference was well organized;
- Which workshop met the participants’ expectations at the best;
- The importance of the event for the cohesion of the network (sharing experience);
- The usefulness of the event for the participants’ current activity.
The achieved results
From the total of 189 participants, 141 have filled in the questionnaire, that is 74,6%. If we eliminate the organizing committee, the authorities and the experts who have not filled in the questionnaires ( that is 26 people), we get a percentage of 86,5% people who filled in the questionnaire, considering their answers as being representative for the participants in the event.
Testing the participants’ opinion regarding the Community Arts Network from Romania:
Although most of the participants consider themselves as being members of the network (84%), only 59% from the participants receive the network newsletter “Impreuna”.
As long as the newsletter Impreuna has been the only activity of the network, it is likely that the rest of 25% consider themselves as being members of the network by having the same professional adherence in the field.
13% from the participants believe that the network does not represent
their interests, while 6 % did not answer. It is more likely that
the ones who did not answer are the ones who did not answer the
first question as well (“do you consider yourselves members
of the network?”) and some of the participants who do not
consider themselves members.
There are also situations in which people who consider themselves as belonging to the network do not trust its actions, or believe that the network does not defend their interests.
The participants expressed their opinions concerning other activities or trends that the network should follow.
A better involvement of all members is what most
of the participants wish for. Some of the participants’ requests
correspond to the activities developed so far in the network. For
example, the guide for the specialists already exists, but the participants
either associated it to the initiators’ name (Impart/ FSC
Bacau) or they do not know about the editorial.
Most of the participants, 77,3%, have done nothing so far to support
the activity developed by the network, having a rather passive attitude.
The activity developed by those who were involved in the network consisted mostly in sending emails and articles for the network newsletter.
2% got involved in meetings, demonstrations etc (probably during the two conferences, or during isolated activities).
All the participants in the conference wish that the network could carry on with its activity (only 1% have not answered).
Most of the participants would support the network by offering information, by organizing meetings etc. and only 8% declared themselves ready to support the network financially, though without mentioning a certain sum.
The “art therapist” title
Most of the participants (80%) believe that “art therapist”
is the name that describes best the activity that the members of
the network develop at the moment. 15% believe that it is not the
most suitable name, 4% have not answered and 1% said that they have
no idea as regards the best name for the job.
The 15% of the participants who did not agree with the “art therapist” name offered other possible solutions:
- Recovery educator
- Occupational therapist
- Creative therapist
- Kyneto-therapist and educator
- Combined art therapist
- Therapist artist
- Alternative art therapist
We have to mention that all the solutions suggested above by the
participants include the term “therapist”. Here are
some comments on the suggested names :
- Recovery educator (a name suggested by most of the participants) occurs as a result of a post-graduate school from Sibiu. The term “educator” refers directly to the activity involving children and excludes working with adults;
- Occupational Therapist - or ergo therapist – is a term already known in Romania, which exists in the organization chart of the institutions and refers to therapy through work;
- Kyneto-therapist (a job already known in Romania, which requires special university studying and refers to the medical recovery of the patients using physical exercises and other specific methods);
Training in the art therapy field
Most of the people who filled in the questionnaires (95%) feel the need of training in the field, 4% believe that they do not need training, 1% did not express their idea on the matter
As regards the best length of time for training, more than half
of the participants (57%) believe that 6 months training is enough.
- 6% think that 1 month training is enough;
-5% consider that the best length of time for training is between 6 months and 2 years;
-1% think that 3-6 months is enough;
- 3 months is the best training period of time for 2%;
- 2 years is the best period of time for training for 25%;
- 1% of the participants believe that in order to achieve a good training one needs more than 2 years.
Training in the art therapy field should have theory elements
of social assistance, psychology, elements of medicine and health
care, as well as practical elements of combined art.
Accrediting the “art therapist” job
87% of the participants who filled in the questionnaires believe
that accrediting the art therapist job would be of great help for
those who work in the field and a percentage of 94% believe that
setting some standards in the field would ease their daily work.
Different aspects related to the organization of the conference
Most of the participants declared themselves satisfied with the way the conference was organized. 6% of the participants considered that the conference could have been better.
The participants’ suggestions refer to:
- LOCATION – it should have been more accessible, there should
not have been the going to and fro between the two hotels, there
should have facilities for disabled people in wheelchairs;
- PERIOD OF TIME – there was a risk of having bad weather (it snowed during the conference, though this unexpected weather did not affect the unfolding of the event);
- LIMITED PERIOD OF TIME – most of the participants considered that the best period of time allocated for such an event would be a week;
- THE PARTICIPANTS’ NUMBER –the number of people attending the conference was considered as too large, in comparison with the small number of disabled people;
- THE AGENDA – a much too heavy agenda rendered more difficult the participants’ sharing their experience as well as making friends with participants from all over the country.
As for the degree of assessing the workshops, most of the participants
considered that all workshops were top-level.
The first three in the top of the workshops have been the following:
- Combined art therapy (Impart team);
- “Joining in a participation” (Susan Hughes, Janet Sparkes, Helen Flooks);
- drama-therapy (Valy Racila).
Organizing this conference contributed to the cohesion within the network, as long as 88,6% of the participants considered themselves more bound with other network members and only 3,5% did not feel more connected within the network after having attended the conference. Some of the participants believed that attending this conference was the first step towards joining in the network.
81% of the participants made friends with members of other organizations, while 14% did not manage to establish relationships with other participants.
95,7% of the participants achieved new knowledge that they would use in their daily work, while the rest considered that the conference brought nothing new, or there were methods already known.
- The Community Arts Network “Impreuna” represents an entity made up of many participants who express their trust in this organization. Although there are also members who do not have enough confidence in this network, they wish that the activities should go on.
In order to meet the participants’ expectations to a large extent, we want to achieve a better communication (by emails, regional meetings) and a greater involvement of the network members.
So far, only few members contributed to the activities developed by the network (especially regarding the newsletter and organizing the conference) although most of them want to get involved more.
The network activities should focus on accrediting the art therapist job, summoning all members and facilitating the relationships with the authorities. Some of the participants would like to contribute financially in order that the network should carry on with its activities.
- Most of the participants believe that the “art therapist” name is adequate, there have been also other suggestions, still all of them included the term “therapist”.
- Most of the people who work in the field feel the need of specialized
As for the best length of time for this training there were various suggestions.
Half of the participants consider that 6 months is the best training period of time, while a quarter of the participants believe that 2 years or even more are enough for a good training.
- Accrediting the “art therapist” job and seting some standards is a must to most of network members.
- Most of the participants were satisfied with the conference and the selected workshops, considering this event as a point of cohesion within the network, which helped in improving the professional abilities of the team.
The event took place at Sinaia, a well known and accessible mountain resort. The hotels chosen by the organizers offered all the facilities required by the conference.
The hotel is on the main avenue of the resort, near to the railway station, thus enabling an easy access. The hotel provided a back lift, with a side entrance for disabled people.
Inside the hotel there were all the necessary facilities for the transport of the disabled people. The hotel offered us 3 rooms (with a capacity of 45-50 people per room) and the hall, in view of developing our workshops.
The circuit and the privateness were very good for the 3 rooms and medium as for the hall (to offer a certain degree of privateness necessary to hold the workshop, the hall has been ingeniously separated by means of panels used for the exhibition).
The permanent registering committee was offered a large room with the necessary equipment, strategically situated near the reception desk.
New Montana Hotel
New Montana Hotel is situated near Sinaia hotel. The route between the two locations was easy to cover; the sidewalks provided platforms for disabled people.
The Symposium room used for the sessions in plenum has a capacity of holding approximately 250 people and offers all the necessary equipment. For an easy access to the hotel and to the conference room, the hotel staff provided a route separated from the rest of the hotel (there were other activities going on simultaneously with our conference inside the hotel). There were platforms provided for the access of the disabled people.
All the participants who have been registered with rooms, received breakfast tickets from the reception staff. The restaurant of the hotel provided us with all the necessary places, pointing out with special signs the booked tables for the participants and especially for the disabled people. The extent of the restaurant allowed all the participants to have their meals at the same time within the given time limit.
3. The permanent registering committee, recording the participants
Situated near the front desk of the hotel, the permanent registering committee was active during the whole conference, developing activities of receiving and recording the participants, as well as of offering support and information whenever people needed. There were various banners indicating the important locations for the conference.
- the participants were received by the registering committee staff, who identified their names within the data base, offered them the conference pack, the personalized badge and the IMPART manual.
- the participants received a check-in form, which they had to fill in and hand it to the reception desk in order to take over the room.
- there was a certain group of people ( people who got involved in the workshops, exhibition or who had speeches for the sessions in plenum, disabled people) who have been offered guidance by appointed members of the organizing committee.
Drawn by Translated by
Irina Avornicitei and Ramona Nistor of FSC