We envisage the arts therapies as vibrant, growing, evidence-based and relevant professions in a South African context.


To strengthen and develop the arts therapies through the
facilitation of collaborative advocacy, lobbying, research
and training; the provision of support, information, professional
development and networking opportunities for members. the
development of mutually beneficial relationships with
international and local bodies.


  • To contribute towards the creation of an enabling regulatory and operational environment for arts therapies.
  • To build and develop a responsive learning Association that provides quality services to its members.
  • To remain informed about professional requirements of practice and other legal and statutory regulations.
  • To maintain a high standard of excellent and ethical practice of and training in the arts therapies in South Africa.
  • To constantly strive towards making the arts therapies relevant in the political, economic and social context of South Africa and Africa.To strengthen the professional voice of the arts therapies at the HPCSA and with other professional bodies in South Africa.
  • To build a strong, inclusive,connected and collaborative community of arts therapists across the country.
  • To explore avenues of growth and development for the arts therapies that result in greater job opportunities for its members.
  • To stimulate, coordinate and oversee a collaborative research agenda that results in an increase in relevant engaged research for quality publications reflecting the experiences of arts therapies practitioners, clients and communities in South Africa.
  • To build and maintain strong international relationships to keep the voice of South Africa arts therapies alive in the global space.


While the continent of Africa has a rich history of using the arts as healing practices, the formal professions of the arts therapies are relatively new in South Africa. Pioneers in the field returned from training at overseas universities with visions of bringing clinical skills and experiences back to a South Africa in much need of healing.

The work of the early arts therapists was to educate the public and the health professions about the arts therapies and to seek recognition for the profession as a legitimate and evidenced based form of therapeutic practice. Due to their efforts, the arts therapies achieved recognition at the Health Professions Council of South Africa, which enabled arts therapists to formally register as health professionals.

In the early 2000’s it was agreed to organise the small group of arts therapists into a network and SANATO (South African Network for Arts Therapies Organisation) was formed. There were many challenges and after some time, the network dissolved.

In May 2009 an art therapist, dramatherapist and music therapist got together to think about how to rebuild the arts therapy community and they organised a national Arts Therapies Symposium entitled ‘Tapping the Field’ at the University of Pretoria. This Symposium coincided with the celebrations of 10 years of Music Therapy training at the University of Pretoria. The Symposium attracted participants from Cape Town and there was a renewed interest in coming together and building a community moving forward.

This was followed by the 2010 conference at Drama for Life at WITS entitled “Building Bridges: The Arts Therapies in Africa“. Again arts therapists were given a platform to talk about their work and were re-inspired to work together to build a collective voice.

Finally at the end of 2012 a national committee was set up with representatives from each of the four professions to start to address the issues affecting the professions – scope of practice, public sector posts, codes and tariffs and code of ethics. This small committee met about 4-5 times a year, and slowly developed greater capacity for understanding and collaboration.

However, this was an unelected committee with no formal structure, no constitutions, and no formal mandate. It was increasingly unable to play the role required of a professional body such as voicing the concerns and needs which pertain to the HPCSA Board’s mandate and the professions as well as holding a position for the arts therapies at stakeholder meetings with the HPCSA Board. All issues such as advocacy within the mental health sector, professional identity matters including fees, guidance of foreign qualified practitioners, potential students and so forth were lying with SANATO. It was imperative that the small SANATO committee motivate for and lead the establishment of a National Professional body for arts therapists.

Music Therapists and Dramatherapists each had their own associations SAMTA (South African Music Therapy Association) and SAAD (South African Association of Dramatherapists) respectively. SAAD and SAMTA accepted that there would still be a need to organise around issues specific to that modality while common issues will be dealt with collectively. It was agreed that SAAD and SAMTA may be reimagined or disbanded and that they would have their own internal processes that would enable their members to prepare themselves for the new organisational platform.

Finally, in 2017, after a national consultative meeting, the intention to establish a national professional association was announced. After 2 years of consultation and hard work, the new Association was launched in May 2019 in Johannesburg. It was agreed to change the name to The South African National Arts Therapies Association – SANATA.


Michelle Booth


Michelle completed her Masters in Art Therapy in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2006.With a background in business management consulting and the NGO field, she has worked with NGO leaders, home based carers, children in schools and teachers. She brings her leadership vision and her commitment to transformation to each organisation and situation. Since 2016 she lives in Knysna and has a private practice while working part time with supporting teachers’ wellbeing.

Cell: 0848064775

Email: chairperson@sanata.org

Nsamu Moonga

Deputy Chairperson

Nsamu (BA Psych, MMT) is a licenced music therapist. A classically trained singer, Nsamu enjoys dancing,  interested in lifelong development, learning, and critical theory-informed research. A therapist grounded in holistic anti-oppressive practise works with people exploring health and lifestyle choices, medical complications, human sexualities and gender, spiritual experiences, life transitions, and learning enhancement. He enjoys long-distance running and writing mystical poetry. He is a foodie, enjoys mentoring youth, and loves being an uncle.

Amari Buys


 Amari Buys is a qualified drama therapist. She enjoys working with individuals and groups and believes in Drama Therapy and all that it has to offer. She feels that the creative arts groups are an important healing tool in South Africa. She is passionate about movement and enjoys spaces where learning and creativity can take place. She enjoys working with all ages but she has a heart for working with children. 

Hermi Viljoen


Hermi completed her Master’s Degree in Music Therapy at the University of Pretoria. She serves as CPD coordinator for SAMTA (South African Music Therapy Association) and is also the treasurer and head of fundraising for SANATA. Hermi offers group therapy to individuals living with traumatic brain injuries, as well as infants with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. Her private practice is in Pretoria East where she works in a multidisciplinary team, specialising in early childhood development.

Sherri Symons

Membership Services

Sherri is a Registered Music Therapist who graduated from the University of Pretoria in 2009. Her work experience includes working with children with disabilities, the elderly who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Dementia, as well as with juvenile offenders.

She is passionate about being involved in the greater community and was involved in the South African Music Therapy Association for 6 years. She is excited to collaboratively serve the Arts Therapies community.

Research and Publications

Research and Publications

Currently Vacant.

Dr Carol Lotter


Dr. Carol Lotter holds an MMus (Music Therapy) and a Ph.D. (Mental Health) from the University of Pretoria. She is a registered music therapist with the HPCSA, is a qualified GIM Therapist, and a trained MARI facilitator. Carol currently co-directs the MMus (Music Therapy) training course and co-facilitates the Music Communication Hons modules at the University of Pretoria. She is an experienced and respected teacher and supervisor with a wide range of clinical experience.



Currently Vacant.

Yael Shapiro (Gavronsky)

Ethics and Legal

Yael is a registered Music Therapist with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and Board of Health Care Funders (BHF). Yael is currently providing individual and group therapy services in the Johannesburg area.  Yael is also an active singer-songwriter and serves as the Ethics & Legal Chair of The South African National Arts Therapies Association.  For more on Yael go to https://yaelmusictherapy.com/

Marlize Swanepoel


Marlize Swanepoel is a Drama Therapist and the director and co-founder of sp(i)eel arts therapies collective. She enjoys being in spaces of learning, unlearning, connecting and dancing. Her area of interest lies in the development of community arts-based psychological practices that are relevant to the South African context and addresses the issue of equitable access to mental health services.

Tessa Whyatt

Art Therapy Representative

I am an Art Therapist (2006), Facilitator and Coach – Time To Think, Enneagram and Resilience – as well as a practicing artist. I have designed an arts therapies and coaching program for youth called Time to Thrive, which is run through the NGO sector. I also run workshops for adults and teams, through the banner of Thrive Leadership. I run a private practice as an art therapist and coach, as well as offering supervision.

Melissa McWalter

Music Therapy Representative

Melissa is a registered music therapist and accredited yoga instructor working in Cape Town. She is a co-director and integrative therapist at Full Circle, offering an individualized and holistic program to those going through challenging life transitions. She works with individuals, families, and groups. Melissa’s approach focuses on the mind-body connection and accessing meaning creatively. She draws on Jungian-informed, shamanic and systemic approaches.

Warren Nebe

Drama Therapy Representative

A former TEDx speaker for Wits University, Warren is the founder and former head and director of Drama for Life, a department of Applied Arts, Arts Therapies, and Arts Research dedicated to social transformation and healing at the Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand. He is a theatre director, senior lecturer, an HPCSA and NADT registered drama therapist, a Listening Hour Guide and Trainer, a Fulbright Alumni, and Salzburg Global Fellow.

Athina Copteros

Dance Movement Therapy Representative

Athina is a registered and practicing Dance Movement Therapist in South Africa. Her PhD explored ways in which movement can be a transformative communication medium for researchers engaging with complex social-ecological systems. It aimed to support researchers and communities by offering tools for reflection, healing and agency. Her arts therapy practice is influenced by principles from humanistic and psychodynamic approaches to psychotherapy.

Tamara Gordon-Roberts

HPCSA Representative

Tamara Gordon-Roberts is a registered Dramatherapist with the HPCSA. Tamara currently works in various fields as a Dramatherapist, facilitator and educator. Tamara served as the Academic Programme Manager of Drama for Life from (2008-2017). She played an instrumental role in establishing the first Honours and Master’s degree training in Drama Therapy in Africa at Wits University. Tamara served as the Chairperson of SANATO (2012-2015). Tamara is currently the Board representative for the Arts Therapies at the HPCSA.

Applied Practitioner Representative

Applied Practitioner Representative

Currently Vacant.

Nethaniëlle Mattison

Student/Intern Representative

I am a final year Music Therapy student passionate about really listening to and being with people. I believe the greatest need we all have is to be seen and heard. That is also the greatest gift we can give each other, to walk the journey of life alongside one another.