History and background . . .

The development of Music Therapy in Italy started halfway through the 70s with the first occasion for national comparison at the Bologna Conference in 1973. A few years later Nora Cervi, at the time director of the Music Course of the Pro Civitate Christiana of Assisi and a person endowed with a rare sensitiveness, kindness and far-sightedness, unfortunately passed away, made herself the founder, together with a group of collaborators, of the first Italian Training Course of music Therapy which started, as an experiment, in 1981.

During those years there were numerous factors which contributed to the development of music therapy both as an area of practice and as an area of knowledge. On one hand was the growing number of trained professionals who gradually began to spread music therapy into new areas of application and make it known to other professional categories with whom they were then able to confront themselves and their different areas of knowledge. On the other was the increasing contact with representatives of music therapy in Europe and America who contributed to enriching the wealth of knowledge and theoretical references, also thanks to the increase in the circulation of original and translated texts (for example, the writings, lessons and supervisions of Alvin, Benenzon, Bruscia, Bunt, Lecourt, Nordoff-Robbins, Priestley and Wigram). Music therapy gradually became a recognised and accredited practice spread throughout the country and music therapists are present and appreciated within the various social-educational, rehabilitative and therapeutic teams.

Definition of Music Therapy: It is recognised in accordance with the Italian Associations of Music Therapy Bruscia’s definition: “Music therapy is a systematic process of intervention wherein the therapist helps the client to promote health, using music experiences and the relationships that develop through them as dynamic forces of change.”1 (Bruscia, 1988)

Theoretical Foundations . . .

The real possession both of good musical abilities and of an psychological interpretative model of musical relationship are by now unanimously recognised as being necessary qualities for a music therapist, though with the different emphasis that the various schools place on one or the other.

Thus, both psychodynamic-oriented music therapies and humanistic-existential relational music therapies currently exist as the two main prevalent directions. The emphasis that is placed on the quality of the musical experience, even within the same orientation, is still rather variable. Other than a good level of musical ability and knowledge, which by now all schools request of aspiring music therapists, for some also indispensable is the quality of the musical experience and a style of encountering this experience that the music therapist must have recognised in him/herself in order to be able to become credible witnesses in the therapeutic relationship. Although not many schools make this request yet, it anyhow seems that this will be the path of future development in relation to the specificity of music therapy compared to other approaches for helping people.

Recognition and approval . . .

In January 2013 the President of the Republic of Italy signed a law (4/2013) and the Italian Parliament approved this law that recognises all unregulated professions, which included the profession of Music therapy. This law also established the certification of music therapists by one of theprofessional associations or bya standard UNI ( Italian Institution of Regulation).

Until today AIM and FIM ( two Italian Associations members of EMTC) are working towards the definition of the standard inside the institution of UNI which should be achieved by the end2014.2

Research and literature . . .

With reference, lastly, to clinical and research areas I would simply like to indicate how far music therapy practice is spreading to more and more varied areas and how this quantitative increase corresponds to a similar significant qualitative improvement also confirmed by the as yet not numerous but still significant presence of research projects which have the advancement and improvement of clinical practice and the application of music therapy among their main aims.

At this moment Italy is involved in the Time-A research project ( Norwey, Austria, Great Britain, Denmark, Israel, Brasil, USA, South Korea, Australia): Randomised controlled trial of improvisational music therapy’s effectiveness for children with autism spectrum disorders. Stella Maris Center in Pisa. (Prof. Dr. Filippo Muratori and Dott. Ferdinando Suvini). Responding to the need for more rigorously designed trials examining the effectiveness of music therapy in autism spectrum disorders, this pragmatic trial sets out to generate findings that will be well generalizable to clinical practice. Addressing the issue of dose variation, this study’ s results will also provide information on the relevance of session frequency for therapy outcome.

Selected links:

Recent publications from Italy

  • Centro Musicoterapia Benenzon Italia, (2014), Musica tra neuroscienze, arte e terapia, Didattica AttivaTrovesi Cremaschi Giulia, (2013), Il grembo materno. La prima orchestra, Armando Editore
  • Rossi M., Capolsini L., (2013), Musicoterapia in onco-ematologia pediatrica, Edizioni Cittadella
  • Ezzu A.,Messaglia R., (2013), Introduzione alla musicoterapia. Storia, fondamenti, modelli, applicazioni cliniche, glossario, Torino, Musica Practica.
  • Gamba L., (2012), Musicoterapia per crescere. Percorsi riabilitativi dall’infanzia all’adolescenza, Roma, Carocci Faber(2012), Le cure musicali. Applicazioni musicoterapiche in ambito psichiatrico a cura di Gerardo Manarolo, Torino, Cosmopolis
  • (2009), La voce in musicoterapiaa cura di Maria Videsott, Elena Sartori, Milano, Cosmopolis
  • Raglio A., (2008), Musicoterapia e scientificità: dalla clinica alla ricerca, Milano, Franco Angeli,

Publications that represent past and current approaches and theories from Italy

  • Bruscia, K. E., (1993), Definire la musicoterapia. Percorso epistemologico di una disciplina e di una professione, ISMEZ
  • Bruscia, K.E., (2002), Modelli di improvvisazione in musicoterapia, ISMEZ
  • Bunt, L., (1997), Musicoterapia: un’arte oltre le parole, Edizioni Kappa
  • D’Ulisse M.E. – Polcaro F.,(a cura di), (2000),Musicoterapia e Autismo, Phoenix Editrice
  • Di Franco G.L., De Michele R., (a cura di), (1995), Musicoterapia in Italia. Scuola, handicap, salute mentale, Idelson
  • Lorenzetti L.M. e Suvini F. (a cura di), (2001), Prospettive in Musicoterapia. Studi ricerche transdisciplinarità, Edizioni Franco Angeli
  • Scardovelli Mauro – Ghiozzi Roberto, (2003), La musica nel passaggio luminoso. Musicoterapia con malati terminali, Edizioni Borla
  • Trovesi Cremaschi Giulia, (2001), Il corpo vibrante: teoria, pratica ed esperienze di musicoterapia con i bambini sordi, Educazione e rieducazione,

References 1 Bruscia, K.E., Defining music therapy, Gilsum (NH), Narcelona Publishers, 1988, p.47. 2 Official Journal of the Italian Republic (2013), Law 4 “ Provisions on unregulated professions matter”. 154/ vol.22/ 26.01.2013.

Updated by Elide Scarlata ,

Professional associations . . .

Italian Professional Associations member of EMTC are:

  • A.I.M. (Italian Professional Association of Music Therapy);
  • F.I.M. (Italian Federation of Music therapists);
  • AIREM (Italian Association Register of Music Therapists)
  • Punto di Svolta Association.

The association’s main objectives are the recognition of the professionalism of those who work in this sector and safeguarding the correct practice of their profession. Among the various aims that the Associations have set itself we would like to point out the following aspects: managing a National Register of Music Therapists comprising three sections: List of Music Therapists, List of Music Therapy Educators and List of Supervisors; establishing and raising clinical and ethical standards; being a constant point of reference for all music therapists in Italy; guaranteeing the correct practice of the profession by the members of the Register; safeguarding the collective interests of the sector providing consultancy and support; encouraging the spread of updated information on job opportunities and new work agreements; encouraging the exchange, publication and distribution of works relevant to music therapy; establishing and maintaining contact with other music therapists and associations around the world; maintaining a continuous relationship with the other related professional associations.

In the pursuit of these aims, a ‘Collegio Probi Viri’ has been nominated which will verify that the registered professionals observe the standards in the Code of Ethics. In particular A.I.M. rules and criteria are at first that 3 specific Registers (Music therapists, Teachers and Supervisors) have been identified, and the relative entrance criteria for all three Registers have been identified and defined.

Training programs . . .

A great deal of attention has been paid to the definition of educational criteria. Local undergraduate Training Courses as well as some postgraduate experiences have been promoted throughout Italy by the Associations. Coordination on a national level has allowed identification of some fundamental criteria for organising the educational programme for the undergraduate courses.

In short, the criteria are the following: Length of Training Course at least 3 years (approx. 1200 hours); Entrance criteria Undergraduate Degree and excellent knowledge of musical language certified by almost 3 years of theoretical and practical study. Educational Programme divided into 4 areas: Music Therapy (45%), Music (25%), Psychology (15%) and Medicine (15%); Practical placement (minimum 250 hours) and Tutoring (minimum 60 hours).

The coordination and monitoring of the courses have produced excellent results in terms of educational standardisation. Collaborations and conventions are currently underway between the training courses and music conservatories and universities with the aim of improving the quality of the courses and above all avoiding the danger of self-referencing which is always present in privately managed Courses. Five conservatories in Italy have started Music Therapy courses in collaboration with universities. In addition, further universities are in the process of beginning Music Therapy courses.

Training courses Italy

Training Course of Music Therapy 'Oltre' - Rome:
Contact Person: Valentina Sabatini – Secretary E-mail :
Address : Via dei Marsi, 73 - 00185 Rome
Telephone : 0039-3939271435
Fax : 0039-06 96521239
Director: Prof. DDr. Luigi Casiglio
E-mail :
Grade: ---

Centro Studi Musica e Arte Firenze
Contact Person: Niccolò Presentini - Tutor
Address : Via Pietrapiana, 32 50132 Firenze
Telephone : 0039.055.3860572
Fax : 0039.055.3860572
Director: Prof. Ferdinando Suvini
Grade: BA Equivalent

CESFOR – Corso triennale di formazione in musicoterapia
Contact person: Luca Moresco – Director
Address: via Orazio 43/a 39100 Bolzano
Tel. +39 0471 272690
Didactical coordinator: Roberto Ghiozzi
Grade: First Level Training

Associazione Pedagogia Musicale Musicoterapia "Giulia Cremaschi Trovesi" (FIM - Federazione Italiana Musicoterapeuti): Contact Person: Paola Mondonico 0039 347 0176453
E-mail :
Address : Bergamo, Via Montale 17, Bergamo
Telephone : 0039 35 570658
Fax : 0039 35 570658
Director: Prof.ssa Giulia Cremaschi Trovesi
E-mail :

Scuola Triennale di Musicoterapia “Carlo Gesualdo”:
Contact Person: Miriam Aleo – Secretary
Address : Via Antonio D’Errico, 1 – 83040 Gesualdo, Av – Italy
Telephone : +39 366-310-6410
Director: Fausto Russo, Phd, Psychiatrist
Grade: Bachelor (private school)