Icelandic Music Therapy Association

Físmús – Félag músíkmeðferðarfræðinga á Íslandi
10 members

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Country Representative

Valgerður Jónsdóttir

Music Therapist

I have been a music therapist since 1986. My main field of work is with people of all ages with varied neurodiversity and challenges. I currently work in Tónstofa Valgerðar which is a special music school.

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Discover more about Music Therapy in Iceland

Development of Music Therapy in Iceland:

In Iceland, music therapy was first introduced in the year 1970 by Mr. Eyjòlfur Melsted. He graduated from the Hochschule für Music und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria and practiced music therapy at Kópavogshælið, a residential institution for the severely disabled from l970 to 1973; and at Safamýrarskóli, a special school for the disabled from 1983 to 1987.

Presently, and to the best of our knowledge, fifteen Icelanders have degrees in music therapy. However, for the past forty-four years, only one to eight music therapists have been practicing at any given time. They have been employed by the State, worked as contractors or private practitioners.

Music therapists in Iceland have worked in residential institutions for the severely disabled and in special schools with the same groups. The School for the Deaf employed a music therapist in the 1990-1991 school year. From 1987 to 2000, the Reykjavik Children’s Music School ran a department to serve children with special-needs. The State University Hospital, child psychiatric ward paid for music therapy services on an hourly basis from 1987 to 2009. Although limited in scope, music therapy served an assessment function in the interdisciplinary team at this hospital. One music therapist worked in an acute adult psychiatric ward at the State University Hospital from 2009 to 2014. Tónstofa Valgerðar, a private music therapy clinic, was established in 1987. Today, Tónstofan is run as a special music school where more than 115 students/clients attend weekly sessions.

In connection with master’s research projects, music therapists have worked at the State University Hospital, department of geriatrics, palliative care, pediatrics, and adult psychiatry. Besides the above-mentioned, three Icelandic music therapists work in their private practices with diverse clientele. Hljóma músíkmeðferð, Músíkmeðferðarstofan, Músíkstofa Mínervu, Tónstofa Valgerðar,

Music therapy has been introduced to health care professionals and the general public through personal endeavors, since 1970. In 1986 an introductory newsletter on Music therapy was distributed, and since then, articles on music therapy have been published in several newspapers, magazines, and various professional journals. A couple of radio programs on music therapy have also been broadcast by the National Broadcasting Service. Besides annual workshops and lectures given at various institutions, schools, and associations, occasionally Icelanders have had the opportunity to attend seminars and experiential workshops given by renowned music therapists from abroad. Music therapy is thus relatively well known to parents’ associations and various health care professionals.

Music therapy in Iceland reflects the different backgrounds, schooling, and experiences of its practitioners. Practices are eclectic in nature and characterized by a variety of opinions, methods, techniques and philosophies without any single one prevailing.

The campaign for recognition of our profession was started in 2000, and had an unsuccessful closure in the year of 2004. In 2013, the campaign resumed and is still ongoing. In this campaign, music therapists have joined forces with other fine art therapists in Iceland. The latest news from the Ministry of Health is that a special committee is working towards assessing the need for fine arts therapies within the health care system.

Without standards of proficiency and professional regulation, without registration and licensure to practice, and without an academic backland, the development of music therapy in Iceland will continue its slow development. Few devoted therapists have struggled to maintain its existence within the National Health Service, the Social Service or the Educational System, and new job opportunities are created by private endeavors.

What has kept Icelandic music therapists inspired and ongoing despite all odds is a professional contact with colleagues from abroad. Through quality education, conferences, the availability of research journals, books, and the World Wide Web we have managed to maintain the love of our profession, to build our self-esteem and our identity as a knowledgeable and important profession.

No music therapy training courses or academic programs are available in Iceland. Icelandic music therapists are educated abroad and have graduated from at least eight different academic institutions in the United States, Europe, and the Nordic countries

Four master’s research projects have been undertaken by Icelandic music therapy students graduating from Aalborg University in Denmark. The client groups focused on in these researches are: Patients with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer patients, hospitalized children and adult psychiatric clientele. One Icelandic music therapist has graduated from Aalborg University with a PhD degree. This study “Music-caring within the framework of early intervention” focused on the lived experience of seven mothers having infants with special-needs participating in a music therapy group. One study, “The Relative Effect of Short Term Interpersonal Cognitive Problem Solving Therapy with Young Children”, was performed by a music therapist finishing her doctoral degree in psychology from University of Leicester in England.

Dissertations that represent education, interests and methodologies applied by members of the Icelandic music therapy association:

Friðbjarnardóttir, S. H. (1998). Musikktrtapi med kreftsyke barn. [Music therapy with children diagnosed with cancer.] (Unpublished master’s thesis). Norges Musikkhögskole, Oslo.

Gunnlaugsdóttir, S. H. (2010). Application of a contextualized self-developed document (SDD). A mixed method research. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Aalborg Universitet, Denmark.

Leifsdóttir, M. P. K. (2006). Musikterapi i onkologien: Guided imagery and music med kræftpatienter. [Music therapy in oncology – The use of the guided imagery & music method in treatment of cancer patients.] (Unpublished master’s thesis). Aalborg Universitet, Denmark.

Jónsdóttir, V. (2011). Music-caring within the framework of early intervention. The lived experience of a group of mothers of young children with special needs, participating in a music therapy group. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Aalborg Universitet, Denmark.

Ingadóttir, I. B. (2006). Das hysterische Kind – Erfahrungen durch die Musik. [The hysterical child – experiences through music.] (Unpublished thesis). Certificate (according to the Association for Anthroposophic Art Therapy in Germany/BVAKT as well as according to the International Coordination of the Medical Section at the Goethanum, Dornach, Switzerland) Musiktherapeutische Arbeitsstätte, Berlin..

Rafnsdóttir, S. F. (2007). Musik med et glimt i øjet: Humor, glæde, sjov og leg i musikterapi med børn på hospitaler. [Music with a sparkle in the eye: Music therapy with hospitalized children.] (Unpublished master’s thesis). Aalborg Universitet, Denmark.

Svansdóttir, H. B. (2002). Musikterapiens effekt på adfærdsændringer og depression hos Alzheimerpatienter: En kvantitativ pilotundersøgelse samt en kvalitativ casebeskrivelse. [The effect of music therapy on behavioral changes and depression in Alzheimer’s patients. A qualitative pilot case study.] (Unpublished master’s thesis). Aalborg Universitet, Denmark.

Torsdottir, J. (1990). Musikterapi for børn – med fokus på metodik. [Music therapy with children – with a focus on methods.] (Unpublished master’s thesis). Aalborg Universitet, Denmark.

Úlfarsdóttir, L. Ó. (2002). The relative effect of short-term interpersonal cognitive problem solving therapy with young children. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Leicester, United Kingdom.

In 1997, the Association of Music Therapists in Iceland (Físmús) was formed. Its main purpose is to support and to encourage the development of the profession in Iceland. The association has developed a code of ethics and standards of practice. If requested, the association verifies the professionalism of its members with a signed document.

Físmús does not have a webpage but shares information on Facebook. Current members of our small association, as well as active clinicians and/or educators are:
President: Jóna Þórsdóttir, (
Secretary: Soffía Fransiska Rafnsdóttir (
Treasurer: Minerva M. Haraldsdóttir (
Inga Björk Ingadóttir (
Lilja Ósk Úlfarsdóttir (
Margrét Perla Kolka Leifsdóttir (
Sara Hrund Signýjardóttir (
Soffía Huld Friðbjarnardóttir (
Valgerður Jónsdóttir (