Professional association of Music Therapists npo

Beroepsvereniging van Muziektherapeuten vzw (BMT vzw)
66 members

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Belgium Association of Art Therapy

Belgische Vereniging voor Creatieve Therapie (BVCT)

34 members

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Country Representative

Lieselotte Steenkiste

Music Therapist

I have been a music therapist since 2011.
My main field of work is in psychiatry; long intensive care, personality disorders and depression.
I currently work at PZ Onze Lieve Vrouw, Bruges.

Contact me at

Discover more about Music Therapy in Belgium

Ever since the University College of Science & Art, campus Lemmensinstituut, Leuven (nowadays it is called LUCA School of Arts, campus Lemmensinstituut) founded its music therapy training course in 1993, the training and profession of music therapist in Belgium have bloomed. The establisment of the training was followed by the foundation of the Belgian professional association for music therapists, namely BMT asbl. It was founded in 1998, driven by the fourth European Music Therapy Congress, which took place in Leuven, Belgium.

The BMT asbl statutes are based on the statutes of the EMTC and count as admission requirements for candidate-members. Currently BMT asbl counts 44 registered professional members, qualified at Masters level, and 7 student members. They are included in a professional register, which is based on EMTC’s minimum standards.

Definition of music therapy “Music therapy in Belgium can be defined as a form of psychotherapy with a focus on a musical, form-giving exchange between therapist and patient, undertaken during musical improvisations or via listening to music. The therapeutic frame of thinking for this exchange is psychodynamic. It is based on psychological theory describing mental structures and processes such as found in the work of Freud (1925), Winnicott (1971), Klein (1948) and Bion (1962). This describes a therapeutic frame that makes use of specific psychoanalytic phenomena and interventions, such as transference, countertransference, holding, containment, projective identification, free-floating attention and reverie. These are important psychoanalytic concepts that sit beside specific music therapeutic phenomena such as therapeutic provocation, anticipating inner silence, musical reverie, post-resonation (De Backer 2008). All these phenomena are ways of describing how one person may interact with another, and also where interaction changes and becomes relationship.The therapeutic relationship between patient(s) and therapists(s) is at the center of this thinking. In music psychotherapy it involves a process that relies on musical improvisation played by the patient and the music therapist. If the patient is not in a position to participate actively in the improvisation, we maintain that the musical improvisation is still present because treatment begins from the affective resonance of the patient. We believe that music takes place at the same level as the trauma experienced by the patient and thus is an ideal modality for treatment in this way.” (De Backer, 2010)

The training is recogized by the government, the profession itself is not. In the past a lot of effort has already been put in trying to close this gap and achieve official recognition as a profession. Problems are to be situated at a political and financial level, but also in the fact that that many other issues demanded the attention of the professional association and prohibited the gain of recognition so far. Next to this the recognition situation concerning the recognition of psychotherapy is very unclear, and music therapists would also like to be recognised as psychotherapists. In 2013 a working group has been established to enable continuity in the process of trying to gain recognition. The working group already has observed that there is a gap between the public opinion towards music therapy, which tends to be more and more approving, and the political opinion, that tends to base itself on incorrect information and takes a more negative stance. The tasks of the working group are now to get insight in the process of demanding recognition, give correct information to the governmental authorities and and make an official appeal for recognition.

Aalborg University offers a five year, full-time MA degree course in music therapy, and is linked to the Music Therapy Clinic at Aalborg Psychiatric Hospital that is established as a center for treatment and research. The permanent staff includes two full time professors and six full time associate professors. In addition the team includes four part-time lecturers, two postdocs and about 15 PhD students.

The MA program qualifies students to practice music therapy at a clinical and scientific level. Students are trained to work within multi-disciplinary teams in institutions in Denmark or abroad. The program gives equal weight to academic study, personal development, musical training, scientific research methodology and clinical skills. The program was founded on a broad psycho-dynamic and humanistic basis encouraging an integrative approach.

Elements in Training Programme:

  • Musical skills: Musical and clinical approach to vocal, instrumental and keyboard improvisation. Musical repertoire.
  • Self experience: Individual and group training in the therapy process. Clinical experience at different institutions.
  • Theoretical skills: Music psychology, general psychology, theory of science, theory of music therapy.
  • The 5th year includes a full time clinical trainee period for one semester, followed by one semester’s supervision of the Masters’ theses.

The international Doctoral Programme and the research milieu at Aalborg University has developed since the first doctoral students were enrolled in 1992. The programme offers PhD education within the science of music therapy. The doctoral students are trained in a stimulating international research milieu and meets twice a year in Aalborg for one-week courses where they work with the peer group, invited presenters and the supervisors. With a majority of international scholarship students, the program has a strong global orientation and partnership with front research milieus. International liaisons are fostered through well-established consortium partnerships, research networks and proficient data collection sites. The goal of the Doctoral Programme is to train researchers with sufficient theoretical, technical, methodological and applied clinical research knowledge in the field of music therapy research to assure scientific rigor. For more information, please visit:

Completed research:

  • Music and Psychosis.The transition from sensorial play to musical form by psychotic patients in a music therapy process. Prof. Dr. Jos De Backer

Research in progress:

Music Therapy and Demention. The importance of musical improvisation to the development of a therapeutic relationship in music therapy with people with dementia. Anke Coomans

Transformation in improvisation. Categorization of playing techniques and interventions in musical improvisations with patients with personality disorder. Katrien Foubert

Selected links:

Literature: PhD dissertations and books

De Backer, J, Music and Psychosis, The transition from the sensorial play to musical form by psychotic patients in a music therapeutic process, Dissertation submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, supervisor Prof. Dr. T. Wigram, Insitute of music and music therapy Aalborg University, Dec 2004

Wigram, T. & J., De Backer (ed.), Clinical applications of Music Therapy in Developmental Disability, Paediatrics and Neurology, Jessica Kingsley Publisher, London, 1999

Wigram, T. & J. De Backer (ed.), Clinical applications in Music Therapy in Psychiatry, Jessica Kingsley Publisher, London, 1999

Journals: Journal of Music Therapy Halfyearly journal edited by BMT asbl

Publications (amongst others): Schotsmans, M., Die Verbindung von Wort, Stimme und Schrei, Ein musiktherapeutischer Fallbericht in der Behandlung von Psychosen. In: Musiktherapeutische Umschau 24, 2, 2003, S. 107-119 Bracke, I. (2007). Just like heaven. Music therapy in pediatric oncology. Newsletter BMT abl, 9th year, 31-34. Van Camp, J. & J. De Backer (2012) Autisme Muzikaal: Rocking, metronoom en compactheid. In G. Gluckers (Ed.) Het raadsel autisme… psychoanalytische psychotherapie? Antwerpen: Garant.

Updated by: Freya Drossaert, music therapist, chairman of BMT asbl, EMTC-delegate, working at Sint-Lucia General Psychiatric Hospital, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium E-mail:

BMT asbl The Belgian professional association is BMT asbl, founded in 1998. BMT asbl negotiates with Belgian governmental departments concerning the legal recognition of the profession of music therapist. She offers legal assistance to its members and provides a half-yearly Journal for Music Therapy. She stimulates ongoing training by organising workshops, lectures and symposia, by informing her members on interesting relevant events, organised by other organisations, and by the network of group supervision she has created.

Furthermore BMT asbl has established a Commission for Independent Music Therapists, aiming to provide members who work in private practice professional support, uniformity and quality. Next to this, she has set up her Ethics Commission to monitor the complaint’s procedure BMT asbl has developed.

BMT asbl keeps a register of her members, who are graduated as Masters or are Bachelors with large experience in the music therapy field. Communication and public relations are maintained by the website and by regular e-mail contacts.

BMT asbl
Amersveldestraat 150A,
8610 Handzame Belgium

This is the professional association of Belgian creative therapists. Creative therapists that have specialised in music therapy at a Bachelor level (f.e. by following the Bacher-after-Bachelor training in Ghant) are represented by this professional association.


Other music therapy organisations:

Muziek & Handicap
Muziek & Handicap is an organisation aiming at those who offer music(therapy) to people with a handicap. The organisation focuses on meeting, exchanging information and training.

Contact: Muziek & Handicap
Walenstraat 15 3150 Haacht
Belgium Tel.: 0032499/14 10 43 (Thursday 9u-12.30u)