100 years of Rhythmical Massage

100 years of Rhythmical Massage

15 January 2022 Ursula Brogle 3503 views

In 2021, Rhythmical Massage as inspired by Ita Wegman celebrated its centenary. Ursula Brogle from the Swiss Rhythmical Massage Association (VRMS) gave us an outline of the origin, development and current situation of this form of therapy. We send congratulations and best wishes for the next hundred years!


Rhythmical Massage was initiated when, in 1921, the Clinical-Therapeutic Institute (now: Klinik Arlesheim) was founded in Arlesheim (CH). The physician and co-worker of Rudolf Steiner, Ita Wegman, who had also trained in gymnastics, hydrotherapy and massage, was able to use her expertise in these fields and develop them further on an anthroposophical basis.

Much of this work was inspired by directly observing patients and their ailments. Ita Wegman was said to be able to achieve an immediate healing effect with just a few massage strokes, applied in the right place with the right stroke quality.

In 1939, Ita Wegman’s medical colleague Dr Margarethe Stavenhagen (later: Hauschka) composed the first course documents based on the newly developed applications. In 1962, the School for Rhythmical Massage and Art Therapy opened in Boll (DE), and ten years later the textbook Rhythmical Massage as developed by Dr Ita Wegman was published. This book describes the specific quality of the strokes used in this approach, which start at the etheric level, the essence of rhythm itself and its importance for the entire human organization.

Posters, leaflets, publication notices and scientific studies illustrating how Rhythmical Massage has continued to develop since its beginnings were shown in the Goetheanum foyer on the occasion of the IKAM meeting (International Coordination of Anthroposophic Medicine) and the parallel International Conference for Body Therapy. Anyone interested could even try out the method there and then.

Rhythmical massage has also grown geographically. New training centres and initiatives appeared in North and South America, South Africa, Russia and India, as well as within Europe: in Britain, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Israel, Romania, Czech Republic. Even in China and Australia, courses are available, some still in the process of being developed or presently restricted due to Covid. The representatives of Rhythmical Massage are connected within IKAM or are part of the IFRMT network (International Forum for Rhythmical Massage Therapy).

Last year, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SBFI) officially recognized the comprehensive documentation of the nature, active principles and effectiveness of Rhythmical Massage. On the basis of this, new training courses are being developed.

The training concept follows the requirements for the Swiss State Diploma for Complementary Therapists (OdA KT). The training course will be offered by atka (Anthroposophic Academy for Therapy and Art) in Dornach and is scheduled to start in Zurich in the autumn of 2022.


Cover image: Therapists all over the world thought it was time to celebrate 100 years of Rhythmical Massage! On 16 September 2021 a celebration saw the release of a hundred balloons, accompanied by music and many good wishes from those present for a further 100 years of thriving Rhythmical Massage Therapy within the range of Anthroposophic therapies.