About WFMT

What is WFMT?

The World Federation of Music Therapy, Incorporated is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the state of North Carolina, USA. Its aim is to promote music therapy throughout the world.

What is music therapy?

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, 2011).

View more FAQs about music therapy here.

WFMT is dedicated to developing and promoting music therapy throughout the world as an art and science. The Federation supports the global development of educational programs, clinical practice, and research to demonstrate the contributions of music therapy to humanity.
WFMT seeks to bring the opportunity to practice music therapy and the benefits of music therapy interventions to people throughout the world.

We affirm that a safe refuge, well-being, dignity, and education are fundamental human rights.

We believe music has the power to heal and promote well-being.

We advocate for the use of music to promote equity, social justice, and peaceful resolution.

We support a global music therapy network that includes all cultural and ethnic backgrounds – age, religion, social status, sexual orientation, gender, indigenous heritage, and disability.

We encourage open, on-going communication as the foundation of learning and growth for our profession.

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What is the purpose of WFMT?

  • To act as the international umbrella organization for the profession of music therapy.
  • To promote the exchange of information about global music therapy throughout the Federation’s eight regions.
  • To promote international collaborations among WFMT members and other related professional groups.
  • To promote and advance equivalencies in clinical practice standards in music therapy.
  • To promote and establish equivalencies in the standards of the education and training of music therapists.
  • To promote and advance equivalencies in the standards and policies of the ethical conduct of music therapists.
  • To promote the integration of research and ethics into the practice of music therapy throughout the world and support international research collaborations.
  • To share information on accreditation and licensing procedures with the Federation’s members and establish equivalency standards for a global music therapy certification.
  • To promote the official recognition of music therapy as a profession by governmental or non-governmental agencies throughout all regions of the world.
  • To support response efforts of music therapists and communities affected by disasters.
  • To disseminate information related to music therapy worldwide by using latest technology and multimedia.
  • To coordinate and promote a World Congress of Music Therapy every three years.

How was WFMT formed?

The World Federation of Music Therapy was formally established in Genoa, Italy in 1985, born out of a common vision among international music therapists to promote the profession globally. Among the ten founding members were Rolando Benenzon (Argentina), Giovannia Mutti (Italy), Jacques Jost (France) Barbara Hesser (USA), Amelia Oldfield (UK), Ruth Bright (Australia), Heinrich Otto Moll (Germany), Rafael Colon (Puerto Rico), Clementina Nastari (Brazil), and Tadeusz Natanson (Poland).

How is WFMT organized?

2011-2014 Organisational Chart

How does WFMT communicate with its members?

The WFMT Council uses online sources such as the WFMT website, blog, podcasts, videos, Facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, emails and an annual report to inform its members and others associated with music therapy. The WFMT Council also holds symposia, panels, and roundtables at major international conferences to inform others about global music therapy developments and the most recent projects in WFMT.

The WFMT Council meets annually during international music therapy conferences if two officers of the Council, two commission chairpersons, and two regional liaisons are present. At the General Business Meeting, usually held on the third day of the World Congress of Music Therapy, the WFMT Council reports their activities and decisions to the current membership. Members have the opportunity to address issues related to music therapy, approve submitted policy proposals, and discuss future plans and directions of WFMT. Full organizational members have the privilege of electing the WFMT leadership. The newly elected WFMT Council meets after the Closing Ceremony at the time of the World Congress. The next WFMT General Business Meeting will take part in July 2020 in Tshwane, South Africa during the World Congress of Music Therapy. All WFMT members are invited to attend!

What is the World Congress of Music Therapy?

The World Congress of Music Therapy is held every three years. Music therapy professionals and experts in related fields from around the world gather at the congress to share ideas, experiences, trends, and research outcomes. The World Congress of Music Therapy is hosted by a WFMT organizational member in conjunction with a local host. The site of each congress is determined by a bid process undertaken by the WFMT Council six years in advance. The Federation makes an effort to circulate the location of the congresses among the eight regions. WFMT members who would like to host a World Congress should contact the WFMT Past President to request proposal details.

Previous congress locations include:

  1. Paris, France (1974)
  2. Buenos Aires, Argentina (1976)
  3. San Juan, Puerto Rico (1981)
  4. Paris, France (1983)
  5. Genoa, Italy (1985) – Founding of the World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT)
  6. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1990)
  7. Vitoria, Spain (1993)
  8. Hamburg, Germany (1996)
  9. Washington, D.C., USA (1999)
  10. Oxford, England (2002)
  11. Brisbane, Australia (2005)
  12. Buenos Aires, Argentina (2008),
  13. Seoul, Korea (2011)
  14. Vienna/Krems, Austria (2014)
  15. Tsukuba, Japan (2017)

The 16th World Congress will be held in Tshwane, South Africa, July 2020. The 17th World Congress will be held in Melbourne, Australia, July 2023.

How has WFMT developed through the years?

WFMT Historical Timeline 1985-2013: Preserving our History

Where can I find more historical information about WFMT? 

Look at the archives on each page of this website, download previous posters and brochures, by visiting the hyperlinked historical resources, or accessing the 25. & 30. Anniversary events below.

Anecdotal reports from the foundation of WFMT in Genoa, Italy in 1985 are available at https://normt.uib.no/index.php/voices/article/view/326/238
Download: Article (pdf)

Brief summary of the history of WFMT up to July 2008.
Download: Summary until 2008 (pdf)

Kern, P. (2010). Historical Aspects of WFMT. Three Core Questions for Seven Presidents.
Download: Article (pdf)

A series of interviews about the World Congresses of Music Therapy can be found at www.voices.no

Grocke, D. (2005). Reflections on World Congresses in Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved from http://www.voices.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2005-reflections-world-congresses-music-therapy
Download: Article (pdf)

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