History and background . . .

1959 – 1970
In 1959, the first European music therapy training programs were initiated, one at the former Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, the other one in London.
In the very first years (1959 – 1970), multi-disciplinary structures were formed between important clinics and the Academy. This multi-professional aspect was typical for the Viennese music therapy. At the beginning of this period, the science of world harmonics (after the model of the Swedish school of Aleks Pontvik) provided the theoretical background of education. Other influences came from rhythmic education. Pioneers in the field of music therapy were: Editha Koffer-Ullrich, Albertine Wesecky, Ilse Castelliz, Georg Weinhengst, Margit Schneider, Stella Mayr, and Alfred Schmölz.

1970 – 1992
From 1970 to 1992, Alfred Schmölz headed the “Lehrgang für Musiktherapie” [training course for music therapy].
Both theoretical and practical backgrounds changed during this period. In close co-operation with famous medical directors (Erwin Ringel, Andreas Rett, Otto Hartmann, Raoul Schindler), practical courses were established in the fields psychosomatics, paediatrics, and psychiatry.
The main characteristics of the training course at that time were:

  • shift from receptive to active methods
  • development of the “musical partner play” (Schmölz)
  • emphasis on the therapeutic relationship
  • music therapy oriented introspection training

1992 – 2003
A definite direction towards psychotherapy, mainly based on psychodynamic and humanistic methods, took place in 1992, when the “Lehrgang” was formally changed into a six-semester “Kurzstudium” [short course of studies]. Also, the Academy was transformed into University of Music and Performing Arts in 1998. Since 1992, music therapy is included in the Austrian psychotherapy law as a “Quellenberuf” [source profession]. Training therapy, both individual (90 hours) and in group (180 hours), and clinical practice under permanent supervision of a music therapist in more than four fields (650 hours) characterise the music therapy training. Obligatory practical courses are in the fields of child and adolescent neuropsychiatry, psychosomatics, and psychiatry. For alternative practical courses, students can make their choice between the fields of neurological rehabilitation, child psychosomatics, special education, paediatrics, elderly people, people with learning disabilities, and neonatology.
Due to a new law for Austrian universities, the former “Kurzstudium” could be changed into an eight-semester “Diplomstudium” [diploma programme] in 2003, enabling graduates to earn the degree Mag. art. (Magister/Magistra artium, equivalent to Master of Arts).

2008 – today
Since June 2008, Austrian music therapists have their own regulation of the profession by law (“Musiktherapiegesetz”). In July 2009, the Music Therapy Law came into effect. This regulation is only for music therapy professionals, it does not contain art therapists. The list of music therapists is kept by the Federal Ministry of Health. Following the Music Therapy Law, there are now two types of exercise of one’s profession: independently (based on a master qualification in music therapy), and jointly responsibly (based on a bachelor qualification in music therapy).
Two training courses were recently established in Krems/Lower Austria (2009), and in Graz/Styria (2010); see below for contact details.

In May 2009 and May 2011, the professional organisations ÖBM and WIM (see below, Members of the EMTC) hosted the annual meetings of the EMTC in Vienna. 29 delegates from European countries came to join their working groups and the General Assembly. Several EMTC delegates gave lectures and presentations of their work and research at two symposia arranged on the occasion of the events.

In recent years, an increasing number of continued education events is organised by the Austrian Association of Music Therapists (ÖBM) in order to help music therapists fulfill their statutory professional duty of continuously attending advanced vocational training.

Theoretical Foundations . . .

Text to come

Recognition and approval . . .

text to come

Research and litterature . . .

In October 2013 Austria´s first PhD training course was implemented at The University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna (German: Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, abbreviated MDW).The PhD training course is also headed by Thomas Stegemann. His first group of students working on their theses includes four students from music therapy and one from music sociology.

Doctoral dissertations (completed and ongoing) in the field of music therapy by music therapists trained in Austria:

Dorothea Oberegelsbacher has done an investigation into music therapy with a disabled adult for her doctorate degree in psychology at the University of Vienna, and has recently done research on the working factors of music therapy with psychosomatic patients.
Dorothee Storz has developed a model for focused short-term music therapy in psychiatry (Storz, 2003). Doctoral training in musicology at the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre.

Elena Fitzthum has done historical research on the roots of Austrian music therapy before 1959 (Fitzthum, 2003). Doctoral training in musicology at the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre.

Christian Gold has done empirical research on the efficacy and effectiveness of music therapy in the field of psychiatry as part of his PhD training in music therapy at Aalborg University (Gold, Voracek, & Wigram, 2004).

Karin Mössler. Within her doctoral thesis she investigated the theoretical and methodological development of the Viennese School of Music Therapy (Mössler, 2008). Doctoral training in musicology at the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre.

Monika Smetana conducted a qualitative study investigating the meaning of musical objects in music therapy with adolescents suffering from structural disorders. PhD training at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna.

Edith Wiesmüller. The thesis focuses on music therapy with adults who are suffering from complex posttraumatic stress disorder (cPTSD). Quantitative and qualitative data were collected. Doctoral training in musicology at the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre since 2009.

Monika Geretsegger is conducting a randomised controlled trial on effects of improvisational music therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders in Vienna which also forms part of an international multi-centre study (TIME-A). PhD training at the Doctoral Programme in Music Therapy at Aalborg University from 2010 until 2014.

Further Research:
Christian Gold is currently principal researcher at Uni Health, Bergen/Norway, Professor at the University of Bergen, Adjunct professor at Aalborg University, editor-in-chief of the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, associate editor for the Cochrane Developmental, Psychosocial and Learning Problems Group (CDPLPG), and involved in many projects and ongoing multicentre studies. His main research interests include outcome research (clinical trials and meta-analyses), their methodology and application in music therapy in mental health, and research connecting process and outcome.

Karin Mössler is currently employed as senior researcher at Uni Health, Bergen/Norway, joining the research team of Christian Gold. Her research comprises historical, process-outcome and outcome research, with a special interest on mixed methods design (Mössler, 2011a). From 2008 until 2011, she was collaborating on an international multicentre (Norway, Austria, Australia) randomised controlled trial investigating the effects of music therapy in patients in mental health care. In recent studies, she is focusing on outcome predictors in music therapy (Mössler et al., 2011a) and the choice of outcome measures in relation to therapy goals. Her research is mainly based on collaborations between music therapists at the State Psychiatric Clinic Wagner Jauregg Linz, Austria, and the Nordfjordeid Psychiatric Centre, Norway. She is furthermore interested in bridging the gaps between clinical practice and research by focusing on clinical aspects of outcome studies (Mössler et al., 2011c). Her latest publication was an update on the Cochrane Review “Music therapy for people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like disorders” (Mössler et al., 2011b).

Fitzthum, E., Oberegelsbacher, D., & Storz, D. (Eds.) (1997). Weltkongresse Wien Hamburg 1996 [World Congresses Vienna Hamburg 1996]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Fitzthum, E. (2003). Von den Reformbewegungen zur Musiktherapie. Die Brückenfunktion der Vally Weigl [From reform movements to music therapy. The bridging function of Vally Weigl]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Fitzthum, E., & Gruber, P. (Eds.) (2003). Give them Music. Musiktherapie im Exil am Beispiel von Vally Weigl [Give them Music. Music therapy in exile using the example of Vally Weigl]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Gold, C., Voracek, M., & Wigram, T. (2004). Effects of music therapy for children and adolescents with psychopathology: A meta-analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 45, 1054-1063.

Illner, J., & Smetana, M. (Eds.) (2011). Wiener Schule der differenziellen klinischen Musiktherapie – ein Update [Viennese School of differential clinical music therapy – an update]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Mössler, K. (2008). Wiener Schule der Musiktherapie. Von den Pionieren zur
Dritten Generation (1957 bis heute) [Viennese School of music therapy. From
the pioneers to the third generation (1957 till nowadays)].Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Mössler, K. (2011a). Mixed methods Forschung am Beispiel musiktherapeutischer Forschungsarbeiten [Mixed methods research on the example of research studies in music therapy]. In J. Illner & M. Smetana (Eds.), Wiener Schule der differenziellen klinischen Musiktherapie – ein Update [Viennese School of differential clinical music therapy – an update] (pp. 153-160). Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Mössler, K. (2011b). “I am a psychotherapeutically oriented music therapist.” Theory construction and its influence on professional identity formation under the example of the Viennese School of Music Therapy. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 20, 155-184.

Mössler, K. (2011c). Historische Reflexionen musiktherapeutischer Techniken der Wiener Schule der Musiktherapie [Historical reflections of music therapeutic techniques of the Viennese School of Music Therapy]. In J. Illner & M. Smetana (Eds.), Wiener Schule der differenziellen klinischen Musiktherapie – ein Update [Viennese School of differential clinical music therapy – an update]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Mössler, K., Assmus, J., Heldal, T. O., Fuchs, K., Gold, C. (2011a). Music therapeutic techniques as predictors of change in mental health care. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Mössler, K., Chen X. J., Heldal, T. O., & Gold, C. (2011b). Music therapy for people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 12.

Mössler, K., Fuchs, K., Heldal, T. O., Karterud, I. M., Kenner, J., Næsheim, S., & Gold, C. (2011c). The clinical application and relevance of resource-oriented principles in music therapy with psychiatric clients. British Journal of Music Therapy, 25, 72-91.

Österreichischer Berufsverband der MusiktherapeutInnen (Ed.) (2000). Symposium “Bilder einer Landschaft. Wien 1997. [Symposium “Pictures of a landscape”. Vienna 1997]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Smetana, M., Heinze, S., & Mössler, K. (2005). Stille – Sterben – Erwachen. Musiktherapie im Grenzbereich menschlicher Existenz [Silence – dying – awakening. Music therapy within the borderland of human existence]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Storz, D., & Oberegelsbacher, D. (Eds.) (2001). Theorie und Klinische Praxis [Theory and clinical practice]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Storz, D. (2003). Fokale Musiktherapie. Entwicklung eines Modells psychodynamisch musiktherapeutischer Kurztherapie [Developing a model of psychodynamic music therapeutic short term therapy]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Storz, D. (2006) „In mir fällt alles auseinander“. Fokale Musiktherapie als Unterstützung zur Integration der Psychose [Inside myself, it all falls apart]. In U. Rentmeister (Ed.),Lärmende Stille im Kopf. Musiktherapie in der Psychiatrie [Noisy silence in the head. Music therapy in psychiatry.]. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Storz, D. (2011). Musiktherapeutische Techniken. Überlegungen zur Entwicklung eines Grundlagenverständnisses [Music therapy techniques. Considerations for developing a basic understanding]. In J. Illner & M. Smetana, M. (Eds.), Wiener Schule der differenziellen klinischen Musiktherapie – ein Update [Viennese School of differential clinical music therapy – an update]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Storz, D. (2011). Freie, pentatonische und tonale Improvisation. Zur Sinnhaftigkeit klanglicher Bezugssysteme. [Free, pentatonic and tonal improvisation. The meaning of sounding reference systems.] In J. Illner & M. Smetana (Eds.), Wiener Schule der differenziellen klinischen Musiktherapie – ein Update [Viennese School of differential clinical music therapy – an update]. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Professional associations . . .

Members of the EMTC
Österreichischer Berufsverband der MusiktherapeutInnen, ÖBM (Austrian Association of Music Therapists), founded in 1984. As of December 2011, the ÖBM has 181 full members, 42 student members, 14 supporting members, 9 organisational members, and 4 honorary members. The ÖBM board consists of six full board members and one students’ representative, all of them serving in an honorary capacity. Since its foundation, the ÖBM’s main goal has been representing the interests of music therapists working in Austria and reaching recognition for music therapy within the Austrian health care system.
Fifty years after the first music therapy course had started in Vienna, the “Music Therapy Law” finally came into effect on July 1st, 2009, thus crowning with success the decades-long efforts of ÖBM board members involved in the negotiations.

Today, ÖBM’s main goals cover:

  • Representation of its members regarding all profession-related matters
  • Information and services for members and everyone interested in music therapy:
  • hosting and continuously updating a webpage at, office hours for questions and support, email newsletters for members approx. 4 times a month, ÖBM journal for members 4 times a year
  • Organisation of workshops, seminars, symposia, congresses, and the lecture series
  • “ÖBM Jour fixe” (continuously running since 1999, three to four times a year)

Job service
Collaboration with associations of other health care professionals as well as with music therapy organisations and training courses in Austria and abroad.
Facilitation of professional exchange.
Promotion of music therapy research.
ÖBM is a member of the World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT), of the European Music Therapy Confederation (EMTC), and of the “Gesundheitsberufekonferenz“ (a consortium of associations of Austria’s recognised health care professions).

ÖBM – Österreichischer Berufsverband der MusiktherapeutInnen
Cumberlandstrasse 48
A-1140 Vienna
T: ++43 699 10654741
FAX: ++43 1 5951180
E-mail: (Secretary ÖBM, Eva Phan Quoc)
E-mail: (Chair ÖBM, Monika Geretsegger)

Wiener Institut für Musiktherapie, WIM (Viennese Institute of Music Therapy) was founded in 1997. The purpose is to promote the autonomy of music therapy in Austria and to integrate music therapy into the field of psychotherapy as a separate method. This private institute organises further training courses and has created a series of books called “Wiener Beiträge zur Musiktherapie” [Viennese contributions to music therapy] (Edition Praesens.Wien) which describes the „Viennese School of Music Therapy, its tradition, clinical practice, research, and the integration of new theories. Todate, nine books have been published in this series.

WIM – Wiener Institut für Musiktherapie
Praterstrasse 30/1/7
A-1020 Vienna
E-mail: (Chair WIM)

Training programs . . .

University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna:
Contact Person: Renate Schiebel – Secretary
E-mail :
Address : Rennweg 8, A 1030 Vienna
Telephone : 0043-1-71155 3914
Fax : 0043-1-71155 3949 F
Director: Prof. DDr. med. Thomas Stegemann (
E-mail :
Grade: Master/PhD

University of Music and Performing Arts Graz
Grazer Ausbildung Musiktherapie
Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz
Institut für Musikpädagogik
Leonhardstrasse 82-84
A-8010 Graz
Head: Monika Glawischnig-Goschnik / Christian Münzberg

IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems
IMC Fachhochschule Krems GesmbH
A-3500 Krems
T : ++43 2732 802-367
Head: Gerhard Tucek




WIM – Wiener Institut für Musiktherapie
Praterstrasse 30/1/7
A-1020 Vienna
E-mail: (Chair WIM)

Austrian delegate for the EMTC:
Elena Fitzthum