Since the fall of communism in 1989, Romania has been working to improve its neglected care system. The charity's roots lie in the country's orphanages, but these institutions are largely a thing of the past due to significant care system reforms. However, there remains a lack of training and professional support for those working with people with disabilities. Momentum is building locally to see greater recognition of music therapy as a valid form of intervention of children and adults with additional needs, and it feels as important to support this progress as it felt to introduce music therapy when we started our projects there over 20 years ago.

Activities and Impact to date

Our first ever project, back in 1995, was provided at the request of a Romanian institution for abandoned children with complex needs in the north of the country. The success of this project, training and equipping care staff to run their own therapeutic music programmes with confidence, led to its replication over the next 10 years. During this time, we delivered 13 projects in 18 care settings across the country, with over 3,500 children and adults benefitting from music sessions delivered by the care staff, teachers, psychologists and other practitioners we trained. We always reinforced our Introductory Training with moral and professional support for as long as our Local Partners were running music programmes. This led to many of them becoming trainers themselves (the most prolific of whom has since trained 1,500 other care staff) and the majority of care settings continue to have music programmes running to this day.

Our main activity in Romania over the past 5 years has been the provision of the Introductory Training using a Distance Learning Programme (read more here) focusing on the use of music with young children with disabilities. To date, over 60 practitioners have accessed this training and the majority have used their learning to set up music programmes in a variety of care settings all around the country. We are currently in the process of transferring our Distance Learning Programme to be led from within Romania, ably guided by a steering group of 10 of our Local Partners. In 2017, the course was locally moderated for the first time by Local Partner Monika Szabo. You can read her story here. Ultimately, we'd love to find a local academic partner so that the course might be locally validated to provide our graduates with accreditation for their learning.

Much of our continued role in Romania is to promote the existent local good practice and training opportunities offered by our Local Partners. In 2016, this included facilitating locally-led training for a school for children with autism who were keen to develop a music programme and encouraging relationships between our Local Partners and the University of Transylvania, which offers the country's first Masters in Music Therapy. Also, in response to local request, in 2016 we prepared a comprehensive summary of the international research which evidences how music therapy works when used with different client groups. We were pleased to have launched this at the first national music therapy conference organised by the University of Transylvania. This national conference has become an annual event and have been delighted to return each year. Last year we happily presented on our experience of using music to add meaning to care, which joined other wide ranging presentations from Romanian practitioners and academics, alongside a small number of international music therapists and other professionals. Various workshops were also held and participation from all attendees was very strong.

Our Local Partners continue to need support in their continued use of music with children and adults with additional needs. In response to their requests we maintain a Romanian microsite, and continue to invite applications for help sourcing musical instruments (these are still not available within Romania), supervision, and contributions to locally-led training/conferences to support the development of local practice.

"I have learned to wait, to leave space, to not hurry, to observe more closely, to look at the strengths of the children, and to enter into their worlds."

“Alexia’s supervision made me accept easier my weaknesses and gave me creativity in how to solve some situations. [Her] presentation made me to feel, we are not alone in this world of music therapy. All of the conference strengthened my confidence in my work. It is my favorite conference!”

Current Activities

Our 6 students completing the Distance Learning Programme 2018 are currently undergoing their final moderation. We have 11 practitioners enrolled on our Distance Learning Programme in 2019 and the course will continue to be locally moderated by Monika Szabo. We are already looking forward to this year’s Music Therapy Conference that the University of Transilvania intend to organise in the autumn and we continue to be available to support our Local Partners' practice with resources, supervision and additional training on request.

If you are interested to find out more about our work in Romania, to find out more about where music is being used in the country or to enrol on a future Distance Learning Programme please send us an email.

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