World Congress

South Africa

Call for papers


The theme for the Congress is The Polyrhythms of Music Therapy.

Through this theme, the intention of the congress is to

  • Honour diversity
  • Promote decolonisation
  • Value debate and difference
  • Recognise and strengthen resources and resilience
  • Hear silenced voices, and invite new voices
  • Grow music therapy with consideration for context, and
  • Champion relevant social issues

We invite music therapists as well as art therapists, allied health professionals, educators and community arts practitioners to submit proposals that consider the theme in the following formats:

  • Paper presentations (20 minutes, with an additional 10 minutes for questions)
  • Poster presentations
  • Workshops (Please indicate on your abstract what type of workshop you would like to facilitate: short workshop – 90 minutes; OR discussion forum – 3 hours)
  • Roundtables (60 minutes)

We welcome submissions from a broad range of areas of practice including:

  • Music therapy approaches (e.g. Nordoff-Robbins, GIM, NMT)
  • Community music therapy
  • Technological advances in music therapy
  • Anti-oppressive and critical approaches
  • Diversity and decolonisation
  • Restorative justice
  • Music therapy in neurological rehabilitation
  • Mental health
  • Trauma
  • Child and youth work
  • The elderly
  • Intellectual and physical disability
  • Work with persons who are displaced
  • Other arts therapies modalities
  • Community building through music education
  • Community arts-based practice

Please note: The streams for the congress will be finalised on the basis of abstracts accepted.



Peer review process and notification

All abstracts will receive blind peer-review by two members of the Scientific Committee.

The following criteria will guide the review process:

  • Quality of the empirical work and theoretical foundation
  • Implications for music therapy practice
  • Originality
  • Clarity and organisation
  • Relevance to the theme

Authors will receive notification of the acceptance or rejection of their submissions by 31 July 2019.

Extra special for early-career music therapists

Certificates will be given during the opening ceremony to the three early-career music therapists who submit the best abstracts, as voted for by the Scientific Committee. (These individuals must have graduated within three years of submitting their abstract for this congress).

What is needed in the proposal document

Title, abstract (250 words), keywords, author, author bio and affiliation (35-50 words)

Visit for more information and to submit your abstract:

2020 WCMT Professional Scholarship Application Form

Please answer the following questions in your narrative.

  1. Why do you think you should be chosen for this scholarship?
  2. What work have you done to advance the discipline of music therapy in your area of the world? (may include work for a music therapy organization)
  3. How would you like to contribute to the development of global music therapy?
  4. How will you fund travel, accommodation, and living expenses to attend the 2020 World Congress in South Africa?


Calling for Hosting a World Congress


All current WFMT full organizational members are eligible to submit a congress proposal. World Congresses are held in metropolitan cities that are easy accessible from major airports. Should you consider hosting one of the two forthcoming WFMT World Congresses, please follow the steps below. This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for your organization and bring positive attention and awareness of music therapy to your country.

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Step 1:    Submit a Letter of Intent.

               Timeline: Immediately

Step 2:    Develop a proposal in accordance with the WFMT Bylaws and submit it to

                Timeline: June 30, 2019

Step 3:    The Council will review your full proposal and contact you to clarify open questions.

                Timeline: August 31, 2019

Step 4:    You might be invited to present your proposal in person to the Council and WFMT Membership

                Timeline: December 31, 2019

Step 5:    The Council will make a decision and inform you.

                Timeline: July 7, 2020


Buenos Aires, Argentina

Download: Book of Abstracts

Download: Congress Program

Conference webpage


Pre-conference: Symposium of the Music Therapy Neurology Network “Towards a Shared Agenda” available at

Download: Proceedings, Oxford, UK (2002)

Download: Proceedings, Washington D.C., USA (1999)

Download: Proceedings, Vitoria, Spain (1993)

A series of interviews about the World Congresses of Music Therapy can be found at