History and background . . .

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 Congres from EMTC, which took place at that time at Leuven, Belgium.

The BMT asbl statutes are based on the statutes of 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 minimal 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)

Theoretical Foundations . . .

Music therapy in Belgium is psychoanalytically oriented, with a focus on Lacanian psychoanalysis.

Recognition and approval . . .

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.

Research and literature . . .

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:

Professional associations . . .

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)

Training programs . . .

Training Program Leuven Contact: LUCA – Campus Lemmensinstituut Lemmensberg 3 B-3000 Leuven tel. +32 (0)16 23 39 67 fax. +32 (0)16 22 24 77 E-mail: Website:

Content: The Music Therapy Training Course is organised at LUCA School of Arts, campus Lemmensinstituut in Leuven and has recently fused with the Catholic University of Leuven. This fusion has as one of many results that there are no entry limits anymore for the music therapy training, which used to be the case in the past. The 5-year-training, consisting of three Bachelor years and two Master years, starts with a broad musical training of two years. From the third year on, the curriculum exists out of musical, music therapeutical, psychiatric and psychotherapeutic courses. Self-experience is gained by the students by starting their own individual psychotherapy and group music therapy. The instrumental courses focus on the development of the capacity of musical improvisation. Under supervision the students gradually get to know the music therapy practice with different populations, resulting in a supervised 10-months-internship in different psychiatric hospitals.

The training is concluded with a Master’s Thesis, in which the student conducts supervised research on one aspect of music therapy, meanwhile evaluating the process of his own therapeutic practice.
The Belgian music therapy training is psychoanalytically oriented and supports the music therapy student in conducting scientific research. It is the only recognised training course in Belgium and is subsidised by the Belgian Government.

The director of the Training Course is Prof. Dr. Jos De Backer. You can contact him on the following e-mail address:

Other Training Courses

In Belgium one Bachelor-after-Bachelor music therapy training is organised, taking place at Arteveldehogeschool at Ghant. Contact: Artevelde Hogeschool Hoogpoort 15 9000 Gent Belgium Website:

Another training course is organised by Aream asbl. This training course is a private initiative, and it is not recognised by the Belgian government. The course is organised in formation seminars. Contact: Aream asbl 23 Rue Portaels 1030 Brussels Belgium Tel.: 02/245 33 82 Fax: 02/245 33 82 E-mail: Website:

Doctoral studies

LUCA School of Arts has its own doctoral programn which specialises in music and musical improvisation in music therapy. Furthermore there is a close collaboration between the faculty and the Expert Centre of Music Therapy at the University of Aalborg at Denmark.