Coping with multiple sclerosis: A music therapy viewpoint

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Coping with multiple sclerosis: A music therapy viewpoint


This article introduces coping theory, from the health sociology literature, to the setting of music therapy with people experiencing the chronic degenerative neurological condition, Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Three factors influencing whether a person copes successfully are their (a) style of coping used, (b) perception of control over life events, and (c) sense of self(Updegraff & Taylor, 2000). Factors relevant to the coping process were identified in the literature about music therapy with those experiencing MS. Three case vignettes describing music therapy with women experiencing severe, secondary progressive MS are examined for evidence of coping processes. Coping strategies identified within sessions included active, avoidant, and acceptance and positive interpretation styles (Updegraff, 2000). Music therapy sessions also addressed factors of patient control and sense of self, which are crucial for functional coping. Music therapists are encouraged to investigate the coping with chronic illness literature, recognise the use of particular coping styles in their clients, and integrate this knowledge into existing music therapy practice.


Keywords: coping, multiple sclerosis, music therapy


Steele, M. (2005). Coping with multiple sclerosis: A music therapy viewpoint. Australian Journal of Music Therapy, 16, 70-87.

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Date published: July 2005