Editorial letter SANATA 2024


A warm welcome to the second edition of SANATA’s online magazine: Beyond Words: celebrating the practice, reflections and innovations of the arts therapies in South Africa. 

This magazine aims to be a contemporary, stimulating and professional resource that captures the work of arts therapists in South Africa. The landscape of the arts therapies is a rich and diverse one – comprising art, drama, music and dance/movement therapists and trainees. Beyond Words brings together case studies, articles, reflections, and artwork from this landscape to illustrate and explore how these modalities have taken shape in our country’s context in order to understand what they offer those needing mental health support. 

About this issue

The theme of the second issue of Beyond Words is Advocacy. The backdrop of the vast mental health needs in South Africa cannot be ignored in this regard, as it is a stark reminder of the necessity of advocacy. It reminds us that whatever work we undertake, we must advocate for humanity within mental health systems, for treatment access, for education to combat stigma, for trauma-informed care, and for robust and contextually sensitive training of mental health professionals. Within this, we also need to advocate for the full inclusion of the arts therapies in South Africa, as they in turn can play a crucial role in advocating for dignified and powerful mental healthcare in South Africa.

About the content

To explore the theme of advocacy in relation to the arts therapies in South Africa, we have curated a variety of articles and reflections from our community.

The issue opens with the Sharing Our Stories section, where, in a letter to her fellow drama therapy pioneers, Paula Kingwill describes the first wave of advocating for drama therapy in South Africa. Graeme Sacks writes about how music advocated for his own health in times of dissonance, and Calsey Schroeder addresses how she advocated for a full-time music therapy position in a school setting. Carol Lotter reflects on how a recent symposium advocated for research, practice, and building networks of support.

In the Reflections on Practice section, we have some opinion pieces from the arts therapies community in relation to this theme. Monique Hill writes about the ethics and advocacy of digital and online therapy; Graeme Sacks again speaks to the potential of music education and how this often falls short; Vasintha Pather discusses a case study and the position of arts therapists in advocating for mental health in the context of the still-felt consequences of Apartheid. Karen de Kock closes this issue by describing the use of music therapy in a psychiatric hospital, and how it can advocate for a village of healing and care.

We hope you find this issue thought-provoking and eye-opening. If you would like to continue the conversation around advocacy and the arts therapies, please reach out – we would love to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you well,
The editorial team
Nethaniëlle, Jessica, and Lieva

Nethaniëlle Mattison
Nethaniëlle Mattison

Nethaniëlle Mattison is an HPCSA-registered music therapist practicing in Randburg, Johannesburg. She has a special interest in adult and adolescent mental health. Nethaniëlle makes use of various creative interventions in her practice as well as in her work at in-patient psychiatric clinics. Her practice is greatly informed by the work of Gabor Maté, Richard Schwartz and Helen Bonny. She is in the process of completing her BMGIM certification in order to become a fellow of the Association of Music and Imagery.

Jessica Mayson
Jessica Mayson

Jessica Mayson is an HPCSA-registered Arts Therapist (Drama Therapy) working in Cape Town, South Africa (MA, University of the Witwatersrand). She works individually and with groups; with children, adolescents and adults in community-based and private practice settings. Her particular focus is on supporting her clients navigate the impact of trauma, build resilience and process challenging transitions. In her practice, Jessica is committed to offering socially just, creative spaces where parts of self and community can be understood, find expression and integration

Lieva Starker
Lieva Starker

Lieva Starker is a music therapist residing in Makhanda, Eastern Cape. She earned her MA in Music Therapy from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the United Kingdom. Following the completion of her studies, Lieva moved to Makhanda and established her private practice, Makhanda Music Therapy. In addition to her private practice, Lieva serves as a part-time lecturer at the Rhodes University Psychology department by teaching a module on therapeutic interventions. She also imparts her passion for music by teaching violin at the Diocesan School for Girls.