Threat to Music Therapy, and other creative therapy courses, at Roehampton University

01 June 2022

The British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) is appalled to learn of the cuts to Arts* & Play Therapies programmes proposed by the University of Roehampton. These cuts will decimate training courses which educate specialist therapists who go on to serve the most vulnerable people in our society.

The commencement of a consultation process is already having a negative impact on both staff and students. Staff members delivering these programmes are at risk of redundancy which puts them under exceptional stress. Students chose to train at Roehampton as it has some of the most respected and experienced tutors in the UK. The specifics of these training courses mean stability is required in order to learn through reflective practice. Throughout their training students review deeply personal psychological content. Consistent relationships between experienced clinician-tutors and students are the cornerstone of this professional learning. Changes to the leadership and staffing of these courses would be uniquely detrimental to the learning experience, the quality of teaching, and to future applicant numbers.

It is extraordinary that the proposals have had no Arts Therapy input, and that the committee does not include the necessary expertise to consider appropriate changes.

Arts & Play Therapies are a crucial part of the Allied Health Professions, working in health, education and social care settings with those who are most vulnerable in our society. Compromises in the quality of teaching and available resources will lead to a poor learning experience for trainees and to weaker practitioners. Ultimately this will impact service-users and their families.

At a time when the UK has an increasing Mental Health crisis it is vital that we have the best possible services for those who need support to improve their Mental Health. It is strongly evidenced that Arts and Play Therapies can have a significant impact on the improvement of people’s health, educational and social needs. They are exceptional in supporting people who are not able to access verbal therapies.

The BAMT is concerned at the lack of transparency and appropriate consultation from the executive at Roehampton University. Students feel they are learning of a decision rather than being consulted. They are not being heard nor given an opportunity to have their questions answered. They are angry and distressed that at a consultation event with Dr Stephen Driver, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and External engagement), and Dr Yannis Fronimos, Dean of School of Psychology, this was acutely evident. Students’ questions were not answered effectively, and Dr Driver indicated that research in the area is “not needed” and is “not important”. This apparent lack of academic, intellectual, and professional understanding was deeply upsetting.

The BAMT will work with staff and students to provide assistance and have called on the Roehampton MP, Fleur Anderson, for support.

The BAMT supports the petition at Roehampton University: Stop the proposed cuts to creative therapies programmes and encourages those reading to sign this petition.

The British Association for Music Therapy calls upon Roehampton University to reconsider its proposals and invest in, rather than decimate, its Arts and Play Therapy courses.

*The Arts Therapies include Art, Dance Movement, Drama and Music Therapies. These professions provide therapeutic support to people across the lifespan, from prenatal to old age; from early development to end of life and bereavement work. Vulnerable people with a range of diagnoses in clinics, hospitals, schools, prisons, and hospices find huge and quantifiable benefits from these specialist clinical interventions..