Swiss Professional Association for Music Therapy

Schweizerischer Fachverband für Musiktherapie/Association Suisse de Musicothérapie (SFMT/ASMT)
301 members


Follow on:


Country Representative

Diandra Russo

Music Therapist

I have been a music therapist since 2014. My main field of work is primarily in mental health, where I use active and receptive approaches. Currently, I work as the co-director and lecturer in the music therapy program at Zurich University of the Arts. Additionally, I have a private practice as a music therapist and engage as a musician in diverse contexts. Furthermore, I am currently pursuing my PhD at Aalborg University.

Contact me at diandra.russo@zhdk.ch

Discover more about Music Therapy in Switzerland

Switzerland is a small country in Central Western Europe. 8 million inhabitants live within 41285 km2 and while some areas are very densely populated, there are large alpine regions which are home to far fewer people. Politically, Switzerland is organized as a confederation of 26 cantons. Each canton has its own constitution, legislature, government and courts – compatible with federal laws. The education system is decentralized and includes four languages (German, 65.5%; French, 23%; Italian, 8%; Rumantsch, 0.5%). The high percentage of foreigners (23 %) living and working in Switzerland increases the country’s “linguistic diversity”. It is important to know that even though “High German” (i.e. written German) is one of the official languages, the various Swiss German dialects that differ considerably from written German are predominant in everyday and professional life. All these facts make the coordination of music therapy training programs and professional politics on a national level arduous.

Music therapy is a contemporary profession and discipline in Switzerland. Since the 1970s an increasing number of persons have been trained and have become certified musictherapists. Until the end of the 1970s Swiss music therapy pioneers had to go abroad to get trained. Today there are four postgraduate training programs (three in German, one in French. Approximately 250 music therapists are registered as fully accredited members of the one professional music therapy association in Switzerland (for details see „Professional associations“).

Music therapy has gained broader recognition over the past 30 years and is quite well established in the following fields: most big psychiatric hospitals, bigger centers of neuro-rehabilitation, in most of the bigger NICU units, in pediatric and adult oncology. Growing activities are in the field of geriatrics and palliative care. Music therapy is well established in special education and in private practice.
The Swiss professional association – SFMT/ASMT (Schweizerischer Fachverband Musiktherapie/Association Suisse de Musicothérapie; www.musictherapy.ch) is a member of the Swiss umbrella organization of art therapy ( OdA Artecura; www.artecura.ch) . Trained music therapists who are recognized by SFMT/ASMT can obtain federal recognition by passing an additional examination.

There are four training opportunities, one is at the Zurich University of the Arts and concludes with a Master of Advanced Studies in clinical music therapy ( www.zhdk.ch/musiktherapie). The others are organized under private law ( www.musiktherapeut.chwww.atka.ch/studiengaenge/musiktherapiewww.erm-musicotherapie.ch). The German-language training courses offer the necessary module contents to apply for a federal exam (Höhere Fachprüfung HFP) to obtain the protected title „Kunsttherapeut ED, Fachrichtung Musiktherapie“ (Arts therapist federally recognized, specialization in music therapy).

Music therapists work in very diverse domains of the health and education system. Over the last 20 years, numerous posts (mostly on a part-time basis) have been created in public and private hospitals and institutions. As full time jobs for music therapists are very rare, a large majority of music therapists combines several part-time jobs and/or private practice to make a living. This might be one reason why the profession is still predominantly “feminine” (about 85% of registered music therapists are women).

Do health insurances cover the costs of music therapy? Every inhabitant of Switzerland is committed by law to conclude a basic health insurance that covers a good part of common health costs. While in inpatient settings the costs for music therapy are usually covered by a fixed hospital rate, this is not the case in outpatient settings. Unfortunately, the basic health insurance does not cover the costs for music therapy in outpatient settings. Nevertheless, some optional complementary health insurances cover approximately 80% of the costs of music therapy in private practice. As a majority of the population can’t afford these onerous complementary insurances, they are reserved to economically privileged patients.

In outpatient settings, clients (or their parents in the case of children) can also register for music therapy directly, or physicians, counsellors and psychologists can refer their patients to music therapists. This is one reason why, compared to some European countries, an important number of music therapy private practices exist. As the life expenses are higher than in neighbouring countries, so are the salaries of Swiss music therapists. Thus, the financial situation of Swiss music therapists compares to that of our colleagues in northern Europe (incl. Germany, Austria).

Definition of music therapy Music therapy in Switzerland is defined in accordance to the official World Federation of Music Therapy definition: “Music therapy is the professional use of music and its elements as an intervention in medical, educational, and everyday environments with individuals, groups, families, or communities who seek to optimize their quality of life and improve their physical, social, communicative, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and wellbeing. Research, practice, education, and clinical training in music therapy are based on professional standards according to cultural, social, and political contexts.” (WFMT, 2013: http://www.wfmt.info/WFMT/About_WFMT.html)

Theoretical foundation In Switzerland, active as well as receptive music therapy is provided in individual and group music therapy settings. The training programs as well as most music therapy practitioners use an eclectic approach, involving several directions to link different philosophies and approaches in their work.

Until the end of the 1970s Swiss music therapy pioneers had to go abroad for training. Since 1980, several private music therapy training programs have been established in Switzerland. Today, there are four postgraduate training programs (approximately 4 years on a part time basis) in the country. Only one of them is a training program at University (Zurich University of the Arts, leading to a Master of Advanced Studies in Clinical Music Therapy: MAS ZFH in Klinischer Musiktherapie). The three others (two in German, one in French) operate on a private basis, leading to private diplomas. Depending on the program, candidates have to be at least 24 or 28 years old, with previous professional qualifications (BA or MA level) in a related domain (i.e. music, medicine, psychology, education, nursing, etc.). Experience in personal psycho- and/or music therapy as well as music and improvisation skills are a further requirement for admission. All four programs demand a significant financial contribution from the student. For these reasons, many students choose to go abroad, thus getting their training at a younger age and avoiding high expenses. To date, there is no Phd-program in music therapy in Switzerland.


A. Training on academic level:

Zurich University of the Arts
Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ZHdK (training in German)
Zentrum Weiterbildung Musik
Sekretariat Marianne Hermon
Toni-Areal, Pfingstweidstrasse 96
Postfach, 8031 Zürich
+41 43 446 51 84

• 4 years part-time postgraduate training
• Diploma: Master of Advanced Studies MAS
• Title MAS ZFH in Klinischer Musiktherapie

B. Private Institutes:

Berufsausbildung in Musiktherapie mit integriertem Instrumentebau Fmas: Forum Musiktherapeutischer Ausbildung (training in German) Musiktherapie und Instrumentenbau Benjamin Schwarz +41 078 852 09 28 schwarz@fachschulemusiktherapie.ch • 4 years part-time postgraduate training

Orpheus Schule für Musiktherapie
 (training in German)
Anthroposophisch ausgerichtete, berufsbegleitende Ausbildung in Kunsttherapie
Fachrichtung Musiktherapie
Sekretariat: Anna-Barbara Hess Lindackerweg 9 CH-5503 Schafisheim

++41 62 891 36 81
Mail: info@orpheus-schule.org

Ecole Romande de Musicothérapie ERM (training in French)
Secrétariat: E.R.M. 17, Av. de la Grenade CH-1207 Genève
Tél : +41 22 700 20 44
Email: erm@erm-musicotherapie.ch

Switzerland integrative training centre Integratives Ausbildungszentrum (training in German)
Email: info@iac.ch

Living in a small, multilingual country, Swiss music therapists most often participate in research projects of neighbouring countries. The homepage of the association gives details on some recent projects (http://www.musictherapy.ch/Forschung.23.0.html).

Recent publications by music therapists working in Switzerland:
Deuter, M. (2010). Polaritätsverhältnisse in der Improvisation. Systematik einer musikalisch-psychologischen Benennung der musiktherapeutischen Improvisation. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Fausch, H. (2011). Musiktherapie und Psychodrama. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Fausch, H. (2012). Music Therapy and Psychodrama.The benefits of integrating the two methods. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Gindl, B. (2002). Anklang – Die Resonanz der Seele. Über ein Grundprinzip therapeutischer Beziehung. Paderborn: Junfermann.
Haslbeck, F. (2012). Music therapy for premature infants and their parents: An integrative review. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 21(3): 203-226.
Haslbeck, F. (2012): «Research strategies to achieve a deeper understanding of active music therapy in neonatal care. Journal of Music and Medicine 4(4): 205-214.
Haslbeck F. (2013). The interactive potential of creative music therapy with premature infants and their parents: a qualitative analysis. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy. iFirst: 1-31.
Haslbeck, F. (2014). Responsiveness –die zentrale musiktherapeutische Kompetenz in der Neonatologie. Musiktherapeutische Umschau, 35(3), 170–177.
Haslbeck, F. (2015). Empowerment and Empowering Self: Using Creative Music Therapy to Reconnect Premature Infants and Their Mothers. In C. Dileo (Ed.), Advanced Practice in Medical Music Therapy: Case Reports(pp. 20–32). Jeffrey Books.
Haslbeck, F. B. (2016). Creative music therapy in premature infants: testing its possible influence on brain development. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 25(sup1), 32–32. http://doi.org/10.1080/08098131.2016.1179921
Haslbeck, F. B., Bucher, H.-U., Bassler, D., & Hagmann, C. (2017). Creative music therapy to promote brain structure, function, and neurobehavioral outcomes in preterm infants: a randomized controlled pilot trial protocol. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 3(1), 36. http://doi.org/10.1186/s40814-017-0180-5
Haslbeck, F., & Stegemann, T. (2018). The effect of music therapyon infants born preterm. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 60(3), 217. http://doi.org/10.1111/dmcn.13677
Haslbeck, F.B., Jakab, A.,Held,U.,Bassler,D., Bucher, H.-U.,Hagmann, C. (2020).Creative music therapy to promote brain function and brainstructure in preterm infants: arandomized controlled pilotstudy,NeuroImage: Clinical(January) 1-30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2020.
Hegi, F. (2010). Improvisation und Musiktherapie. Möglichkeiten und Wirkungen von freier Musik. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Hegi, F. (1998). Übergänge zwischen Sprache und Musik. Die Wirkungskomponenten der Musiktherapie. Paderborn: Junfermann.
Hegi, F. & Rüdisüli, M. (2011). Der Wirkung von Musik auf der Spur. Theorie und Erforschung der Komponenten. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Hegi, F., Lutz-Hochreutener, S. & Rüdisüli, M. (2006). Musiktherapie als Wissenschaft. Grundlagen, Praxis, Forschung und Ausbildung Eigenverlag, Zürich.
Kandé-Staehelin (2015): „Switzerland. Country report on professional recognition of music therapy“, in: Ridder, H.M. & Tsiris, G. (Hrsg.) (2015): „Music therapy in Europe. Paths of professional development.“, Approaches Special Issue (in collaboration with the European Music Therapy Confederation, 185-186.
Lorz-Zitzmann, A., Kandé-Stähelin, B. (2012). Krankheit – Trauer – Wandlung. Musiktherapie mit schwer kranken Kindern, Jugendlichen und ihren Eltern. Zürcher Schriften zur Musiktherapie Bd. 2. Wiesbaden: Reichert
Lutz-Hochreutener, S. (2009). Spiel-Musik-Therapie. Methoden der Musiktherapie mit Kindern und Jugendlichen. Göttingen: Hogrefe.
Lutz Hochreutener, S. (2017). Rituals in Music Therapy. Recurrent Elements of Play in Child Music Therapy. Meaning and Praxeology. In: Hemetek, U. & Szabo-Knotik, C. (eds.). Best of isaScience 2013-2016.
Maurer-Joss, S. (2011). Dem Leben eine Stimme geben. Zürcher Schriften zur Musiktherapie Bd. 1. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Kaufmann, J., Nussberger, R., Esslinger, M. & Leitgeb, M. (2014). gespürt – gehört – gebor(g)en: Musiktherapie mit risikoschwangeren Frauen, Säuglingen und Kleinkindern. Zürcher Schriften zur Musiktherapie Bd. 3. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Munro, S. (1986). Musiktherapie bei Sterbenden. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag.
Renz, M. (1996). Zwischen Urangst und Urvertrauen. Therapie früher Störungen über Musik-Symbol- und spirituelle Erfahrungen. Paderborn: Junfermann.
Renz, M. (2000). Zeugnisse Sterbender: Todesnähe als Wandlung und letzte Reifung. Paderborn: Junfermann.
Roelcke, B., Galli, C., Bossert, S. & Marz, J., & Vuissa, A. ( 2020). Musiktherapie in der Neurorehabilitaion. Beobachtungen, Untersuchungen, Forschung. Zürcher Schriften zur Musiktherapie, Bd. 7. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Sigrist, F. (2016). Burnout und Musiktherapie. Grundlagen, Forschungsstand und Praxeologie. Zürcher Schriften zur Musiktherapie, Bd. 4. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Stohler, J, Osterwalder, H., Andenmatten, M. & Fritsche, C. (2018). Zeit – Leere – Hingabe – Glück. Seinsqualitäten und Wandlungsprozesse in der Musiktherapie. Zürcher Schriften zur Musiktherapie, Bd. 5. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Thalmann-Hereth, K. (2009). Hochbegabung und Musikalität. Integrativ-musiktherapeutische Ansätze zur Förderung hochbegabter Kinder. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Switzerland has one music therapy association, the SFMT/ASMT (Schweizerischer Fachverband Musiktherapie/Association Suisse de Musicothérapie). Due to the diversity of training and clinical practice, the association plays an important role as an overarching organization.

It was founded in 1981 to promote and develop music therapy in practice, training and research. It promotes the recognition of music therapy as a health profession on a federal level and guarantees high and consistent professional standards of Swiss music therapists through accreditation standards corresponding to EMTC standards. Accredited music therapists may use the initials “SFMT/ASMT” as a title (i.e. “Musiktherapeutin SFMT”).

The association safeguards the interests of its members and can act as their representative with government authorities, health insurances and institutions in case of conflict. Furthermore, the association organizes a national, bilingual continuing professional development event once a year. Even though the association has decided to work “only” in German and French, the fact of the different language groups makes all initiatives complex and expensive.

Name of the association:
Schweizerischer Fachverband für Musiktherapie SFMT – Association Suisse de Musicothérapie ASMT
3 levels of membership: accredited music therapists, associated members, supporters.