24 September 2021

A new initiative for Mutual Recognition of Arts Therapy in the Baltic States was launched today by the European Consortium for Arts Therapies Education (ECArTE) at an event in Vilnius, Lithuania.

This initiative was inspired by independent documentary film How to Save a Dead Friend (Docs Vostok and Sisyfos Film Production, In Production) which intrinsically speaks to the power of film and art-making as part of one’s journey processing grief and mental health issues.

How to Save a Dead Friend offers a painful but compelling portrait of love and loss. Sharing more than ten years of personal archives and using a kaleidoscope of different formats, Film director Marusya Syroechkovskaya reflects on her lover Kimi’s tragic fall into drug addiction and mental illness, with the process of filmmaking helping her overcome her grief and her own mental health struggles.

Marusya has said:

“I started to film him as soon as I realized I was losing him. I wanted to be there for him and to be there with him, but the whole situation hurt me a lot as well. My camera provided me with the distance I needed.”

The initiative will deliver regulatory cooperation between some of Europe’s most advanced members in terms of arts therapy recognition – the Baltic States. A structured qualification recognition framework will achieve new freedoms for arts therapists to practice their profession in multiple countries. This will ultimately increase citizen access to mental health support.

Speaking about the initiative, Chairman of ECArTE and Drama Therapist, Richard Hougham said: 

“It is vital that arts therapies receive the formal recognition that they deserve. We believe that this initiative in the Baltic states could have ripple effects beyond the region. It is essential that governments facilitate every means available to them to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and address the associated mental health crisis. ECArTE’s mission is to make sure that arts therapies constitute a part of that, and we are grateful to Think-Film for their support in making this so.”

Arts therapy practitioners have long recognised the role of art-making in treating and improving mental health. In 2019 the World Health Organisation published an extensive paper detailing the scientific evidence supporting the role of arts in improving mental health. However, European government recognition of arts therapy as a profession is presently weak. This initiative is anticipated to galvanise thinking at the European Union level and inspire greater professional cooperation across the continent towards increased availability of and access to arts therapy services in the region and improvement of quality through greater competition.

The initiative is supported by Think-Film Impact Production, impact producers for How To Save A Dead Friend.



ECArTE is a consortium of Universities, which was founded in 1991 and currently comprises 33 member institutions from 15 European countries. It is a non profit-making organisation. Its primary purpose is to rep­resent and encourage the development of the Arts Therapies at a European level, in particular courses offering nationally-validated and professionally-recognised education for arts therapists. The Arts Therapies include art therapy, dance movement therapy, dramatherapy and music therapy. For more information about the initiative please see :