The high prevalence of psychological distress in multiple sclerosis (MS) is well established and it is recognised that the beliefs people form about their neuro- logical condition, and the coping mechanisms they employ, influence their psychological well-being. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a third wave cognitive behavioural therapy that focuses on how people relate to their thoughts and engage in valued activities, even in the presence of difficult emotions, fatigue, and pain. To date there has been little clinical research into the application of ACT with people with MS. In this case study we report on a sixty-two-year-old woman with secondary progressive MS who was assessed and treated using an ACT intervention. The treatment involved both individual and couples therapy that focused on how her thoughts about MS and her memories of childhood trauma were impacting upon her current well-being and relation- ships. Measures of acceptance and psychological distress were gathered pre-, mid-, and post-treatment. At the end of therapy, depression and anxiety scores had reduced to non-clinical levels. She reported improved acceptance of her MS symptoms and related thoughts, and greater engagement in valued activities. She felt more able to take perspective on her trauma memories and to reduce the impact these had on her ability to live successfully with MS. Consideration of the clinical utility of this therapy in MS is made, along with suggestions for further developments in this area.
- theoretical and research basis
- condition characterised
- acceptance and commitment therapy
- chronic neurological
- multiple sclerosis