‘Tessa’: Music therapy with a person living with ME/CFS: An exploratory single case study
Background: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a severe chronic illness that has profound effects upon a person’s life. Current treatments focus on manual-based interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Graded Exercise Therapy (GET), strongly criticised in the literature. Key areas where people with ME/CFS might benefit from therapeutic support include feelings of isolation, loss of autonomy, and a devalued sense of self. This study suggests that the experience of ME/CFS could be viewed as a trauma affecting the person’s body/mind. Rooted in interpersonal, embodied attunement, improvised music therapy offers a uniquely supportive medium in which the person can experience themselves as a creative agent. Aims: This study seeks to examine how processes of shared decision making and agency between person and therapist occur in the music. In doing so it is hoped that a fuller understanding of these processes might emerge. Method: A microanalysis of two selected clips was undertaken, examining the data in relation to different perspectives suggested in the protocol (Trondalen 2007). Findings: Themes that emerged out of the analysis included: The need to feel heard; unpredictability; control and release; potential for dialogue; authority; and joint attention. Conclusions: The researcher’s limited experience of research entailed difficulties in drawing out conclusions from the data. Further research in the use of improvisation with this population would be a valuable contribution to knowledge in this area.