Music therapy and the education of students with severe disabilities

Jennifer Stephenson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Music therapists regard music therapy as a valuable intervention for students with moderate to severe intellectual disability or multiple disabilities, but many special educators would regard it as a controversial practice, unsupported by empirical research. This paper reviews the goals and strategies used by music therapists working with students with severe disabilities and the purported outcomes of music therapy. The recent research base that could validate music therapy as an effective educational intervention is reviewed. There is little evidence to support the use of music therapy as an educational intervention, but what evidence there is suggests that music therapy sessions, when planned in collaboration with educators, may provide a context for eliciting and practicing communication skills. Such music therapy interventions should be individually planned and monitored to ensure educational outcomes are achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-299
Number of pages10
JournalEducation and Training in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006


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