Portugal is located in the southwest region of Europe and is known for its connection to the ocean and its wide variety of cultural traditions. Music is an important part of our culture and it speaks quite clearly for the "personality traits" of our people. The "fado", a song form with a particularly dramatic style of singing, portrays the fatalism and nostalgic attitude that underlies the Portuguese people's philosophy of living. On the other hand, our folklore music is very "colorful" and strongly connected to group dances and joyful community celebrations. It clearly symbolizes the lively character of Portuguese people and their long tradition of living in close contact with the extended family and the members of their local community in an informal way.
In today's Portuguese society, the exchange between urban and rural communities has become more intense and there is a growing interest in combining modern health and well-being principles with old musical traditions and practices. Education and mental health professionals show a growing interest in the field of music therapy and make repeated attempts to incorporate the principles of music therapy in their already established professional practices. It is quite typical of our culture that most initiatives related to music therapy have been developed in an informal and non-official manner over the past three decades and only in very recent years the field has begun to take shape through the creation of an official organization and a training program. Much like all the other countries in the beginning stages of establishing a discipline, we currently struggle with the need to clarify what constitutes a music therapy intervention among all the initiatives that take place, as well as the definition of training standards for those who will be rightfully called music therapists, given that there are no government recognition standards for music therapy professionals or training programs, up to the present moment.
The interest in the field of Music Therapy in Portugal dates back to the late 1960's, when a group of educators, psychologists and physicians first learned about this discipline and started to empirically apply the principles of the therapeutic use of music in their daily work with patients and students. However, it is important to understand that music therapy in Portugal is still a professional activity in the preliminary stages of establishing itself as a discipline. Empirical work has been done by professionals in related fields, and music therapy seminars and introductory workshops have been held throughout the past three decades. The first training program was created in the early 1990's and cancelled in 1999, having issued 16 non-degree diplomas.
Although a few psychiatrists and psychologists have implemented music-related therapeutic activities in hospitals and mental health centers over the years, the interest of Portuguese professionals in music therapy has mostly grown among those who work in the field of education. In special education, music therapy practices evolved within the context of recreational music activities, with therapeutic implications for handicapped children and adolescents. Arquimedes Santos, the pioneer of the "Education through the Arts" movement, has been one of the first to highlight the importance of creative arts being used within a psycho-educational or a therapeutic approach to children and adults.
Since the music therapy program in Madeira (see Training Programs section) produced its first graduates, a number of special education and mental health professionals have been conducting therapeutic music activities throughout the country. Requests for information and training have been made in increasing numbers by psychology students, special education teachers and music educators. At the present moment, there is a new program starting in Lisbon and the Portuguese Music Therapy Association is mostly invested in bringing together all professionals involved and developing training and practice standards for the creation of a music therapy professional community. No such standards have yet been established and implemented at an official level.
There are two major trends in the practice of music therapy in Portugal, each involving different theoretical frameworks:
1 - The practice of music therapy according to the psycho-educational model of intervention. This has emerged from the field of special education and it involves most of the work being done with children in the country. Within this framework, music serves as a therapeutic activity in the developmental intervention plan that is established for each child, according to age, level of functioning, specific difficulties and potential abilities. Generally speaking, it can be said that this work consists of the application of music education methods (Orff, Willems, Kodaly) within a therapeutic approach.
2 - This trend began with the initiative of a few musically trained mental health professionals who have done some clinical work in music therapy at the empirical level. Music was integrated in either recreational therapy activities in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Other mental health specialists developed therapeutic work with music in both individual and group settings. In these situations, music therapy is seen as a form of psychotherapy within the context of a multidisciplinary intervention. Improvisation and sound exploration is the main method used and music serves as a vehicle for self-expression and communication. The professionals involved in these projects received training and supervision from psychoanalytically oriented therapists and they use music therapy techniques from a psychodynamic theoretical perspective (Freud, Winnicott, Mahler).
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is a cultural organization, which hosted some of the earlier projects involving music and "expressive reeducation". The Gulbenkian Foundation also sponsored other initiatives involving music therapy and music in special education, such as providing funds for music educators to work in centers for handicapped children, offering scholarships for professionals to attend seminars and conferences in Portugal and abroad, and also inviting foreign music therapists to lecture in Portugal.
The APEM (Portuguese Association for Music Education) was the first Portuguese association to recognize this type of work and serve as a connection between Portuguese and International professionals in music therapy related areas, represented by Graziela Cintra Gomes. APEM and Ms. Gomes have played a significant role in Portugal in stimulating interest in music therapy and music in special education. APEM served as a forum for professionals and students interested in music therapy until the formation of the Portuguese Music Therapy Association, in 1996.
The Portuguese Music Therapy Association (APMT) is the only music therapy organization currently existing in Portugal and it has been presided by Fernanda Magno Prim since its formation in 1996 until February 2001. In 1997, APMT hosted the Pre-Congress of the European Music Therapy Federation. Since then, the APMT has been attempting to gather the professionals already practicing music therapy in Portugal, as well as promoting music therapy seminars, workshops and short courses throughout the country. APMT provides information about music therapy to professionals from related areas, as well as referral information for training programs in mental health and education who decide to incorporate introductory music therapy courses in their curricula A music therapy library collection is being developed and it is temporarily installed in the library of Lisbon Technical University, where a postgraduate program in Expressive Therapies is being established. The next goal for APMT is to begin elaborating a set of standards for the practice and recognition of music therapy professionals and training programs, according to EMTC and WFMT guidelines. The APMT is represented in the EMTC and the WFMT in the person of its current president, Teresa Leite.
Postal Adress: Rua Conde de Almoster, 24-5° Dto, 500-194 Lisboa, Portugal.
The first music therapy training program that existed in Portugal was led by Dr. Jacqueline Verdeau-Paillés and sponsored by the Madeira Regional Department of Special Education. Between its first and second classes, it evolved into a three-year program with 6 weeks of intensive coursework, distributed over 3 years of documented fieldwork and the elaboration of a final monograph. This program required that students would have at least a Bachelor's degree, previously acquired musical training and also psychology or special education academic training. As a requirement for graduation, students also needed to show proof of additional training in psychiatry, psychology, music theory and history, as well as ear, vocal and instrumental training. From these two classes, approximately 20 students graduated as music therapists, according to a recognition arrangement between the Paris V/René Descartes University and the Regional Department of Special Education of Madeira.
Since October of 2001, a new Expressive Therapies program was initiated at the Technical University of Lisbon, Graduate School of Human Psychomotor Development. This is a two-and-a-half-year post-graduate program (10 course hours per week) that will issue a non-degree diploma in Expressive Therapies. The first year has a common curriculum in the areas of psychology, human development, psychopathology and the expressive arts therapies. For the latter three semesters, students will specialize in either music therapy or dance therapy. This program is mostly based in Humanistic Theories and Developmental Psychology.
Until the present moment, there have not been established any standards of recognition for either the practice or the teaching of Music Therapy in Portugal. The APMT is planning to discuss and establish such guidelines in the near future, in accordance to European standards. There are three music therapists working in Portugal who hold degrees issued by foreign universities (the Netherlands, USA and Argentina). The current challenge for our professional pioneering community is to establish the necessary standards to identify and recognize the music therapists among those professionals who have gathered a number of non-degree music therapy training credentials and pioneering experiences.
At the present time, there are two research projects known to the Portuguese Music Therapy Association:
1. Title: "The role of Music in the Communication Competencies of the Autistic Spectrum Child" (Graduation Monograph, Defense Date: 11/9/2002)
Author: Pedro Viegas
Institution: Graduate Institute of Applied Psychology, Lisbon
Type of Project: Multiple Case-Study
2. Title: "The Effect of Music Listening in the Anxiety Levels of Hemodialysis Patients" (proposal being formulated, waiting for budget approval)
Author: Teresa Leite, Filomena Araújo, Cláudia Francisco
Institution: Almada Private Hospital, Gambro Hemodialysis Clinic
Type of Project: Comparative Study
Other professionals have contacted our Association with information requests for research projects in Music Education or Psychology, but the contents and quality of such projects are unknown to the Association.
The only music therapy publication issued in Portugal until the present moment is a compilation of articles issued by the APMT at the time of the Pre-Congress of 1997 for the EMTC. This publication was titled "Cadernos de Musicoterapia" (Music Therapy Texts). Aside from this publication, several articles have been published in specialty books, journals and mainstream magazines about the therapeutic use of music and its application in the field of education.
Leite, Teresa (2002). Music Therapy in Portugal. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved May 14, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country/monthportugal_sept2002