Czech Republic

History and background . . .

There is a long tradition of music therapy in the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia), drawing on the heritage of music culture and folklore, the foundations of special education and the principles of music education. Above all, the origins stem from the psychotherapeutic influence (connected with the name of Christoph Schwabe) as the prevailing course of Czechoslovak music therapy in the 1970s and 1980s. The use of music therapy in the Czech Republic dates back to the 1970s. At the time, elements of music therapy were intentionally implemented in psychiatry practice and social education. Jitka Vodňanská and Josef Krček are two out of many other pioneers.

Other pioneers of music therapy in Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic include primarily (in alphabetical order): Markéta Gerlichová, Katarína Grochalová, Lubomír Holzer, Jiří Kantor, Josef Krček, Noemi Komrsková, Matěj Lipský, Marcela Litovová, Štěpánka Lišková, Jitka Pejřimovská, Lenka Počtová, Tomáš Procházka, Jana Procházková, Dana Pšeničková, Zdeněk Šimanovský, Libuše Turečková, Zdeněk Vilímek, Jitka Schánilcová Vodňanská, Jana Weber. Some of them studied music therapy in foreign countries (Austria, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, US) and brought inspiration to our country.

Definition of music therapy: In the Czech Republic we define music therapy as follows: “Music In the Czech Republic we define music therapy as follows: "Music therapy is a field with a primarily therapeutic impact. At the same time, music therapy is a curative and supporting process where a qualified music therapist accompanies his/her client or group in a therapeutic process through a helping relationship, music and musical elements. The aim of the process is to develop a potential or to restore functions of the individual in a relevant way so that the individual can achieve a better intrapersonal and/or interpersonal integration targeted at fulfilling the individual's physical, mental, emotional and social needs." (CZMTA, 2013)

Theoretical foundation: When we analyse the music therapy models which influenced the current state of music therapy in the Czech Republic, we can distinguish five categories of prevailing music therapy streams concerning music therapy as a profession:

  • Psycho-therapeutic music therapy (clinical)
  • Neurorehabilitation music therapy (clinical)
  • Special education music therapy (educational, auxiliary, rehabilitative)
  • Anthroposophic and transpersonal music therapy
  • Educational music therapy (music philetics)

Psycho-therapeutic music therapy (clinical) The main personality of this stream in Czech music therapy is Dr. Jitka Schánilcová Vodňanská. She studied music therapy with Dr. C. Schwabe in Germany at the turn of the 1960s and the 1970s. She devoted herself to music therapy systematically at the Department of Alcoholism Treatment of the Prague hospital “U Apolináře” when treating alcoholics and drug addicts from 1982; and later in the Centre of Youth and Family Care. She was an organizer of three accredited psycho-dynamically oriented trainings in music therapy. A whole range of contemporary music therapists gained proper music therapy education there. Consequently, the development of Czech music therapy was for long influenced by psycho-dynamically oriented psychotherapy. Dr. Jitka Vodňanská currently supervises the training in Educational Music Therapy at the Charles University. Over the time, she has educated many students and colleagues who practiced music therapy, for example:

Jana Procházková – music therapy for children and families
Jitka Pejřimovská – founder of music therapy method “Geneape”, focused on psychotherapy and music therapy with children,
Ferdinand Knobloch – founder of Integrative psychotherapy, Integrative analysis of music
Hana Vyhnálková – music therapy with families
Vladimír Mikula – music therapy and psychotherapy with schizophrenia patients
Zdeněk Šimanovský – systemic music constellation, music therapy techniques in music education
Marketa Gerlichova – founder of music therapy method IKAPUS, focused to self-development and psychosomatic aspects
Irena Strossová – founder of psycho melodrama; music therapy in psychiatric care.

Neurorehabilitation music therapy (clinical)
The neurorehabilitation music therapy is focused on rehabilitation aims, i.e. to improve the quality of movement, fine motor skills, communication, concentration and relaxation, to release spasms and to train memory as well as time and spatial orientation. A number of therapists have included singing and practising rhythm or playing musical instruments in various phases of the rehabilitation process, without calling this music therapy. One of the first music therapists who devoted herself to this field was Dr. Noemi Komrsková who worked with children with cerebral palsy at the Hamsova Rehabilitation Institute in the 1970s and wrote the first diploma thesis on music therapy in the Czech Republic. Since the mid 1990s, M. Ed. Markéta Gerlichová has developed this stream at the General Teaching Hospital of the 1st Faculty of Medicine at Charles University, focusing on patients after brain injury. The practice of several clinical speech therapists, such as Petra Zdenková, Anna Čecháčková or Julie Exnerová, also contributed to the development of neurorehabilitation music therapy.

Special education music therapy (educational, auxiliary, rehabilitative)
The roots of using music therapy in special education and rehabilitation are much deeper than it might seem at first sight. Even though music therapy started to form around the 1960s in the Czech Republic, the healing effect of music had already been applied in the field of special education and rehabilitation as early as the 19th century. A prominent teacher, František Bakule, used the principles of music therapy in his work with disabled people. It was again in the 1970s when the educational and rehabilitative music therapy started to return back to special education. After 1989 has seen a significant expansion of music therapy. This happened mainly thanks to the graduates of psycho-dynamically oriented music therapy. Nowadays there are therapists who belong to this stream. Of course most of them also use the techniques of rehabilitative and psychotherapy approach, so their own practice is more eclectic than educational:
Tomáš Procházka – holistic approach to music therapy (based on systemic psychotherapy and many others therapeutic approaches)
Matěj Lipský – Supporting developmental music therapy (primarily for children)
Zdeněk Vilímek – author of music therapy method “Music of the Body” (together with co-author M. Beníčková), which is designed for people with mental and multiple disabilities
Jiří Kantor – eclectic approach to music therapy with a focus on people with severe disabilities
Zdeněk Šimanovský – systemic music constellation, music therapy techniques in music education.

Currently, this area is undergoing a significant development – both in music therapy research and education. For example, classes focused on music therapy in the framework of psychology or special education pre-graduate studies at universities are fairly common. Apart from that, a post-graduate accredited education programme in Educational Music Therapy has been set up at special education departments. The highest possible level of education that can be currently received is within the music therapy oriented doctoral studies of special education.

Anthroposophic and transpersonal music therapy The anthroposophy-oriented music therapy introduced by Josef Krček has been developing independently of psycho-dynamically oriented music therapy in the Czech Republic. He created a five-year education programme in anthroposophy-oriented music therapy named “Musica Humana” (he has recently published a book of the same name). Many contemporary experts graduated from this very same school. They now develop the original ideas of anthroposophic music therapy as well as their own in their practices. Jan Braunstein, Lenka Šramlová, Libuše Turečková, Dana Pšeničková, Milena Raková and other contemporary music therapists prefer the antroposophic orientation. In the Czech Republic, we can also find a strong transpersonal music therapy orientation; Lubomír Holzer (his holistic model of music therapy has in the Czech Republic many followers), Ivo Sedláček and Vlastimil Marek are probably the most popular practitioners in this area.

Educational music therapy (music philetics) The educational music therapy is focused on music therapy techniques used in educational system facilities (e.g. basic schools). The base of performed games and techniques is therapeutic, but not represents the real therapeutic process. The supportive and leisure time level of this kind of music therapy/music philetics is targeted mainly for children in early educational stages (kindergarten, basic schools…). The representatives of this scope are Svatava Drlíčková, Zdeněk Šimanovský and others.

Recognition and approval . . .

In connection with the music therapy recognition process in the Czech Republic, it is necessary to mention the historical circumstances of the non-democratic communist regime period after World War II. The regime did not enable liberal development of any activity that did not comply with the communist ideology and it suppressed mainly individual and group activities. Sadly, music therapy fell within this category.

Only after the political change in 1989 (the so-called Velvet Revolution) when the democratic regime was re-established was it possible to start building and developing music therapy. Nevertheless, the heritage of non-democracy brought many difficulties in various fields: the health system, education as well as social care transformed only little by little from the deep-rooted directive state towards a free society.

Currently, many experienced (and widely accepted by the music therapy community) music therapists give courses and trainings within some institutions (e.g. universities, hospitals, profession associations) or privately.

The CZMTA supports the participation of music therapy professors in doctoral state exams of students focusing on music therapy research. It tries to protect the profession from those students who write their PhD thesis on music therapy and afterwards call themselves music therapists without any clinical experience, supervision and other important requirements. The CZMTA is also preparing the register of bachelor, master, and doctoral theses. All courses are taught in Czech.

The recognition of training and education institutes by the state is currently being discussed by ministries and universities. Generally, it is the Czech Ministry of Education which decides about the recognition of diplomas from courses and trainings; however, the recognition of music therapy education by the music therapy community has not been anchored yet. There are many excellent music therapists in the Czech Republic with a wide education background, but without any special academic title or diploma.

Research and literature . . .

M.A. Marie Beníčková, PhD. – focuses on the problems of auditive perception from the view of music therapy. Her dissertation thesis informs about music therapy and specific learning disorders. Contact:

Bc. Svatava Drličková – a former student of Lubomír Holzer, she decided to investigate his therapeutic model with disabled as well as non-disabled people. She created her own music therapy concept based on transpersonal music therapy of Lubomír Holzer. The master’s thesis informs about ethnographic study focused on personality Gendos and therapeutic using of music in Tuva. Contact:

Dr. Markéta Gerlichová, PhD. – works at the 1st Faculty of Medicine at Charles University, Prague, and practises music therapy with patients after brain damage in General Teaching Hospital, specializing in the research of the effects in music therapy during neurorehabilitation of persons after brain injury; the vice-president of CZMTA (Music Therapy Association of the Czech Republic; Contact:

Dr. Jiří Kantor, PhD. – a teacher at the University of Palacky in Olomouc, he focuses on studying current music therapy practice and its development in the Czech Republic in cooperation with his students (this is the theme of several pre-graduate theses). For a long time, he has been working with disabled people taking an eclectic music therapy approach based on rehabilitation, educational and artistic background. Another focus of his work and research is to develop theoretical music therapy conceptions for people with special needs. Contact:

Dr. Lenka Kružíková, PhD. – a practitioner of music therapy with children in early childhood and clients with mental disorders. Her research informs about Gathering songs in the Czech Republic and in the part of the United States (Mid-Atlantic Region). She is a teacher at Palacky University in Olomouc and cooperates as a lector with Centres for Children in early childhood. Contact:

M.A. Anna Neuwirthová, PhD. – a practitioner of music therapy with children in early childhood and clients with mental disorders. Her research involves musicology and aliquot singing. Contact:

Dr. Matěj Lipský, PhD. – works at the Faculty of Pedagogy, Charles University and specializes in supportive developmental music therapy for children; he is currently organizing an international conference in expressive art therapies ( ); the head of CZMTA (Czech Music Therapy Association). His research is focused on his method Supportive developmental music therapy. Contact:

M.A. Zdeněk Vilímek – a special educator and a long-time practitioner of music therapy, mainly with severely and multi-disabled people. He contributed to the field of music therapy with a profound qualitative research and founded his own music therapy model called “Music of the body”. Contact:

Bc. Zuzana Vlachová – her research includes a pre-graduate thesis “Music Therapy in Italy” (a comparative study of Czech and Italian music therapy with its practical part based on a music therapy practice with prof. Ferdinando Suvini); since 2010, she has specialized in music therapy with refugees in the Czech Republic (bachelor thesis at Masaryk University in Brno). Contact:

Dr. Jana Weber, PhD. MT-BC – her dissertation thesis focused on Music education, Music therapy and Adolescence (2009, Charles University in Prague). She’s practicing music therapy in Switzerland with adults with mental disorders. She studied Music Therapy in the United States at Molloy College (Long Island, NY).

In recent years, many new books on music therapy written by Czech authors have been published as well as chapters in books or articles in both Czech and foreign journals. Below, you can find the most important ones (published over the previous three years):

Beníčková, M. (2011) Muzikoterapie a specifické poruchy učení (Music Therapy and Specific Learning Disabilities). Praha: Grada Publishing. ISBN 978-80-247-3520-7

Gerlichová, M. (2014): Muzikoterapie v praxi (Music therapy in practice), Praha: Grada Publishing. ISBN 978-80-247-4581-7

Holzer, L.; Drličková, Sv. (2013) Celostní muzikoterapie v institucionální výchově. Olomouc: UP. ISBN 978-80-244-3323-3

Kantor, J.; Lipský, M.; Weber, J. et al. (2009) Základy muzikoterapie (Foundations of Music Therapy). Praha: Grada Publishing. ISBN 80-244-1075-3

Kantor, J., Dosedlová, J. (2014) Tanečně-pohybová terapie a muzikoterapie. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého. ISBN 978-80-244-3682-1

Kantor, J. et al. (2014) Kreativní přístupy v rehabilitaci osob s těžkým kombinovaným postižením. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého. ISBN 978-80-244-4358-4

Krček, J. (2008) Musica humana. Hranice na Moravě: Fabula. ISBN 978-80-86600-50-5

Müller, O. et al. (2014) Terapie ve speciální pedagogice (Therapies in the Special Education), Praha: Grada. ISBN 978-80-247-4172-7

Pejřimovská, J.; Gajdošíková Zeleiová, J. (2011) Dimenze muzikoterapie (Dimensions of Music Therapy). Trnava: Trnavská univerzita v Trnave. ISBN 978-80-8082-331-3

Vránová, J. (2010) Music Therapy. (A chapter in Psychotherapy Nowadays). Praha: Grada. 8 p. ISBN 978-80-7367-682-7

Selected links:
• Czech music therapy association (CZMTA):
• Conference “Space for Art therapies”:
• Music Therapy Section established at the Czech Psychotherapeutic Society established at J. E. Purkyne Medical Society:
• Akademie Alternativa:
• Moravian Association of Artistic Therapies:
• TERA expressive therapies:
• Conference “Common Space”:
• Video from the conference “Music Therapy in Health Care – Research and Practice Today” organized on the occasion of the 1st European Music Therapy Day:

Updated by Dr. Marketa Gerlichova, PhD.
music therapist, physiotherapist, special educator
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
General Teaching Hospital and 1st Faculty of Medicine at Charles
University, Prague
Albertov 7, 128 00 Prague 2
tel: 224 968 569


Professional associations . . .

In the Czech Republic, there are currently three subjects that endeavour to define music therapy as a profession. These are:

• Muzikoterapeutická asociace České republiky (CZMTA) – [Music Therapy Association of the Czech Republic] with around 200 members
• Sekce muzikoterapie České psychoterapeutické společnosti Jana Evangelisty Purkyně (SMT) – [Music Therapy Section established at the Czech Psychotherapeutic Society established at J. E. Purkyně Medical Society] with around 50 members
• Mezinárodní asociace uměleckých terapií (MAUT) – [International Association of Artistic Therapies], formerly Moravská asociace uměleckých teraopií with around 20 members
• Muzikoterapeutický institut České republiky (MICR) - [Czech Music Therapy Institute] with around 5 members

Muzikoterapeutická asociace České republiky (Music Therapy Association of the Czech Republic, CZMTA) is a new association that was constituted due to the integration of Česká muzikoterapeutická asociace (CZMTA) – [Czech Music Therapy Association] and Česká asociace muzikoterapie a dramaterapie (CAMAD) – [Czech Music Therapy and Drama Therapy Association]. It is a member of EMTC and WFMT. The CZMTA accepted the main aims of the previous associations. It aims at warranting music therapy as a profession and it is the main initiator of establishing music therapy studies at universities. Currently, it actively cooperates with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and other authorities on the recognition of music therapy profession. Concerning cooperation with foreign countries and organizing international conferences, it is the most worldwide known Czech subject at present. It organized the international conference “Setkávání muzikoterapie a dramaterapie” [Music Therapy and Drama Therapy Coming Together] in 2006 (the main speaker was Mr. J. Moreno), the international conference “Music Therapy – Experience with Music” in 2008 (besides many Czech experts, the main speakers were Mr. C. Robbins and Mr. W. Mastnak). In 2010, it co-organized the international conference of expressive therapies “Space for Art Therapies” (the main speaker was Mr. T. Masuko). For June 2013, it is co-organizing the international conference called “2013 Space for Art Therapies”, with the President of EMTC Hanne-Mette Ochsner Ridder and the President of WFMT Byungchuel Choi participating.

Sekce muzikoterapie při České psychoterapeutické společnosti při Lékařské společnosti J. E. Purkyně (SMT) – [Music Therapy Section established at the Czech Psychotherapeutic Society established at J. E. Purkyne Medical Society]. This section associates students, experts and non-professionals interested in music therapy. The section organizes public meetings in the Medical House four times a year. These meetings are focused on the presentation of the music therapy research results, on sharing information about news in the music therapy world and, above all, on the meetings of music therapy with other fields. Music Therapy Section closely cooperates with the CZMTA.

Moravská asociace uměleckých terapií (MAUT) – [Moravian Association of Artistic Therapies] has started working in 2007. The association gathers people interested in the field of artistic therapies and has four parts (Music Therapy Association – in 2009 became a member of the EMTC; Art Therapy Association; Drama Therapy Association; Dance/Movement Therapy Association).

Training programs . . .

Currently, it is possible to study music therapy at universities as well as in the private sector. Two postgraduate university courses are recommended by the Music Therapy Association of the Czech Republic (CZMTA).

University courses recommended by the CZMTA:

• the Faculty of Education of Charles University in Prague]
• the Faculty of Education of the Technical University in Liberec]
both courses at the departments of special education. Only psychologists and special educators with a master degree can enrol in these courses.

There is an effort (in cooperation with prof. W. Mastnak) to extend the course at Charles University to three years and to accredit this course as a bachelor and another two years for master pre-graduate study. The lectors of the previous training groups of this course have been many outstanding Czech as well as foreign lectors, e.g. Clive Robbins and Wolfgang Mastnak. The cooperation with the Nordoff-Robbins Center in the USA continues also for the future training group that is going to be opened next year.

Other university courses recommended by the CZMTA:

• the University in Plzeň (the Department of Psychology)
• the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Palacky in Olomouc

Music therapy courses in the private sector:
Tabor – focused on anthroposophy music therapy.
Akademie alternativa [Alternative Academy] – supported by Moravská asociace uměleckých terapií (MAUT) [Moravian Association of Artistic Therapies]; focused on all types of expressive therapies