History and background . . .

Switzerland is a small country in Central Western Europe. 8 Mio. 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) – one of them is government supported, the other three are private (for details see „Training“). Approximately 190 music therapists are registered as fully accredited members of the one professional music therapy association in Switzerland (for details see „Professional associations“).

Theoretical Foundations . . .

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.

Recognition and approval . . .

State recognition of music therapy as a registered health profession is not yet achieved in Switzerland. However, music therapy has gained broader recognition over the past 25 years. At the present, one of the four training courses leads to a title recognized on a federal level (“MAS ZFH in Klinischer Musiktherapie”) -> https://www.zhdk.ch/musiktherapie. For music therapists trained in private schools, it is also possible 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). -> http://www.kskv-casat.ch/hoehere_fachpruefung_kostentraeger.php. For trained psychologists and medical doctors it is possible to obtain the title as psychotherapist specialized in music psychotherapy („Musik-Psychotherapie“; title accredited by the Swiss Charta for Psychotherapy). -> https://www.zhdk.ch/asp-integral-vertiefungsrichtung-musik-psychotherapie-3735

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).

Research and literature . . .

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.
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.
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.
Sigrist, F. (2016). Burnout und Musiktherapie. Grundlagen, Forschungsstand und Praxeologie. Zürcher Schriften zur Musiktherapie, Bd. 4. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Thalmann-Hereth, K. (2009). Hochbegabung und Musikalität. Integrativ-musiktherapeutische Ansätze zur Förderung hochbegabter Kinder. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Professional associations . . .

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
Members: 3 levels of membership: accredited music therapists, associated members, supporters.
Total: 262
Accredited (fulfilling admission criteria): 213
Associated members: 45
Patrons: 7
President: Ursula Wehrli Rothe

Contact: Sekretariat SFMT/ASMT Dorothée Hauser Seldwylastrasse 30 8217 Wilchingen Tel. ++41 79 280 69 27 info@musictherapy.ch www.musictherapy.ch

Training programs . . .

Until the end of the 1970s Swiss music therapy pioneers had to go abroad for training. Beginning in 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 government supported training program in German (Zurich University of the Arts, leading to a Master of Advanced Studies in Clinical Music Therapy), leading to a title recognized on a federal level (“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 an important 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. Today, there is no phd-program in music therapy in Switzerland.

A. Government supported 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 recognized on a federal level (“eidgenössisch anerkannter Titel MAS ZFH in Klinischer Musiktherapie »).
  • Note: physicians and psychologists can add an additional 5th year of training to acquire the title “Musik Psychotherapie“. For accredited music therapists, the university also offers CPD-programs to become a certified „Lehrmusiktherapeut“ (music therapy trainer).

B. Private Institutes:
Forum Musiktherapeutischer Weiterbildung SchweizFMWS (training in German)
Musiktherapie und Instrumentenbau
Sekretariat: FMWS Dorfstrasse 40 CH-5326 Schwaderloch 

++41 56 250 3117
Mail: J.marz@gmx.ch

  • 4 years part-time postgraduate training
  • in collaboration with the Institut für Musiktherapie der Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg

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