Mario Eugster

PhD student

Mario was born in the Swiss town Appenzell and studied piano and organ at the conservatory in Zurich (Hochschule fuer Music und Theater) with further studies completing the piano concert diploma in Lausanne. After many years of working as a pianist and organist his deep interest in the relationship between music, health and medicine intensified. He experienced music as deeply connected and concerned with the existential themes of what it means to be a human being, and from this place having a profound effect on life, health and society. The increasing interest of healing and therapeutic power of music was ignited further by working in a Steiner special needs institute during his social service, and this eventually led him to music therapy studies in London, where he completed the Nordoff Robbins MA in music therapy in 2006.

Since 2007 Mario has been working as a music therapist in adult mental health, employed by CNWL (Central North West London) NHS Foundation Trust. He also has experience of working with children with a wide range of special needs whilst working for Nordoff Robbins for several years.

Currently he holds the positions of principle music therapist and consultant in Arts Therapies with CNWL NHS Foundation Trust. He works with adults in both acute inpatient and community settings with a range of severe mental health conditions specialising over the past years in working with people experiencing psychosis. He has completed the Foundation Training in Open Dialogue.

In his consultant role he is responsible for training, research activities and service development as well as holding managerial and supervision responsibilities. He is also a lead trainer on the ICAPT (International Centre for Arts Psychotherapies Training) providing a range of trainings to arts therapists, including mentalisation-based approaches to arts therapies.

He also works as a freelance pianist and lives in London with his wife and two daughters.

PhD Research Project

Music Therapy, Culture and Psychosis

Mario’s PhD research project will explore the role and influence of culture in music therapy with people experiencing psychosis. The research will investigate how cultural background, lenses and assumptions influence music therapy practice with people experiencing psychosis. Culture includes ethnic background but extends far beyond this into the multiple social dimensions and realities as well as ‘culture of place and time”. Since the research is conducted in a multi-cultural context in London, the socio-cultural tapestry has deep levels of complexity. However, in an increasingly globally interconnected world, cultural contexts are rapidly woven together across the globe and impact also on health contexts. Questions such as the following will be the topic of deep inquiry: How does the cultural background of the therapist and music therapy client, as well as the cultural milieu where music therapy happens, impact on the experience and interpretation of psychosis? What are the conscious or unconscious cultural assumptions held by the therapist (and client) when navigating experiences of psychosis? What are the cultural influences within a Western psychiatric context on perception, diagnosis and interpretation of psychotic states and what does this mean for music therapy practice?


Eugster, M. (2007). An Investigation into Time Relationships in Co-Improvisation with Children Having Epileptic Fits. British Journal of Music Therapy21(2), 68–77.