Music therapy with individuals with severe multiple disabilities


  • Claudia Bajs Academy of Music, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia



music therapy, severe multiple disability,, functional and psychotherapeutic approaches, focus group discussion


The present study uses a qualitative approach to explore music therapy with individuals with severe multiple disabilities (SMD). Six music therapists with wide experience in this field took part in a focus group discussion that featured questions about the potential of music therapy with children, adolescents and adults with SMD, the ways individuals with SMD use music therapy, the interrelation of functional and psychotherapeutic aspects in music therapy, and the challenges in conducting research studies including individuals with SMD. The data were analysed using a grounded theory approach, and the findings highlighted the following macro areas: opportunities, music therapy approaches, and research challenges. Participants emphasised the wide range of developmental opportunities that music therapy can offer to individuals with SMD. They outlined the unique characteristics music therapy interventions offer for working with individuals with SMD, especially when combining functional and psychotherapeutic approaches. The broad spectrum of competencies and qualities of the music therapist was also highlighted. The experiences and insights of the international group of music therapy experts about their practical work with individuals with SMD are promising and open up many possibilities for further development of this field of work in research, teaching and therapeutic practice.

Author Biography

Claudia Bajs, Academy of Music, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Claudia Bajs is a trained music therapist and supervisor from Germany who currently works in an institution for adults with severe disabilities in Austria. She teaches at the Knoll Institute for Music Therapy in Slovenia and in university programmes in Graz, Austria, and Olomouc, the Czech Republic. She is the country representative for Slovenia in the European Music Therapy Confederation and currently working on her dissertation in the doctoral programme at the Academy of Music, University of Ljubljana. []