History of Rhythmical Massage Therapy

To listen in the true sense to another person is an act of highest selflessness.
When two people are joined in recognition of each other in the spirit they are linked in freedom.
A symbol handed down from olden times, the staff of Mercury,
then becomes a spiritual reality one can behold.”

— Ita Wegman, The Mysteries
portrait of Dr. Ita Wegman

Ita Wegman, MD

The history of Rhythmical Massage Therapy begins with Dr. Ita Wegman (1876–1943). As a young woman in the late 1890s, Ita Wegman trained in Swedish Massage Therapy and gymnastics, in Holland. In 1902 she was introduced to the work of Rudolf Steiner, PhD (1861–1925) and his developing insights into the wisdom of the human being, anthroposophy.

After personally meeting Dr. Steiner in 1904, Ita Wegman was inspired to become a medical doctor and she completed her full training in 1920 at the age of 44. One year later, in 1921, Ita Wegman, together with Dr. Steiner and chemist Oskar Schmiedel (1887-1959) founded the first anthroposophical medical clinic, Das Klinisch Therapeutische Institut, in Arlesheim, Switzerland.

Anthroposophy offered many new ways of looking at the human being. Das Klinisch Therapeutische Institut became the center for collaborative work creatings anthroposphic medical initiatives.

In addition to founding the practice of anthroposophic medicine, the early work at the clinic gave birth to Rhythmical Massage Therapy, anthroposophic nursing, the Weleda Pharmacy, and unique methods of practicing art therapy. Der Sonnenhof Arlesheim, an intentional farming community for children with developmental disabilities, a 5-minute walk from the clinic, was founded by Ita Wegman in 1924.

In her work at Das Klinisch Therapeutische Institut, Dr. Wegman gave massage treatments to patients. She recognized that touching patients through massage informed her of the patients’ state of health. Each treatment was highly individualized, based on her hands-on assessment of the patient and close collaboration with Rudolf Steiner. Initially, Dr. Wegman taught this new massage therapy, based fully on the insights of Rudolf Steiner, to the doctors in the clinics. Later this remarkable therapy was taught to massage therapists and nurses.

Dr. Margarethe Hauschka photo portrait

Margarethe Hauschka, MD

In 1929, Margarethe Haushka, MD, (1896–1980) joined the medical team at Das Klinnisch Therapeutische Institut. Dr. Margarethe Hauschka had learned massage in her first year of medical practice. As a new doctor at the clinic, Ita Wegman gave Margarethe Hauschka the responsibility of continuing the development of Rhythmical Massage Therapy. This led to the two doctors collaborating for the next twelve years on this unique approach to massage therapy. After Dr. Wegman’s death, Dr. Hauschka officially titled the therapy, Rhythmical Massage as Indicated by Ita Wegman, MD.

In 1962 a professional training course for Rhythmical Massage Therapy was established at the Margarethe Hauschka Schule für Künstlerische Therapie und Rhythmische Massage, in Bad Boll, Germany, by Dr. Hauschka. For many years this was the primary access to training in Rhythmical Massage Therapy. Since the 1980s RMT training associations have grown around the world. Today, RMT is taught and practiced in health care settings throughout the world.