It was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by the Dutch educational counsellor Maria Aarts. She realised severe difficulties in explaining scientific insight about a child's problems to parents and other educators, as these are often unable to understand pedagogic jargon and to identify the relevance of the insights to everyday-life situations.
She developed a method where normal situations between child and educator were recorded by video and discussed together thereafter. By this, strengths and weaknesses of both children and educators in their interaction should be recognised easier, which in return should help both in gaining the optimism and power to solve educational issues themselves. The most important instrument for doing this is to enhance communication.
After having practiced Marte Meo for many years, she founded the Marte Meo organisation in 1987, which aimed at teaching educational counsellors in applying the Marte Meo method.
Marte Meo has attracted significant attention not only in the Netherlands, but also in Scandinavia, France, Ireland and India, where it is practiced. In these countries, it is often regarded as effective, cheap and pragmatic.