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The Role of Music Therapy in the Treatment of a Girl with Pervasive Refusal Syndrome: Exploring Approaches to Empowerment

Australian Journal of Music Therapy
Volume 17 (2006)

Abstract: Pervasive Refusal Syndrome (PRS) is a life threatening psychiatric disorder, which is characterized by a refusal to eat, drink, talk, walk or maintain any level of self-care. In this article, it is suggested that music therapy may provide a unique role that is supportive, validating and empowering for patients with PRS. The rare condition of PRS predominantly affects girls between 8 - 16 years of age who, if managed well, are expected to recover completely (Lask, 2004). Literature has linked PRS to the theory of learned helplessness and as such, has highlighted the need for patients to control the pace of recovery (Nunn and Thompson, 1996). The value of music therapy interventions to provide opportunities for choice and control, and thus empowerment, is well documented. Similarly, music therapy theory and practice supports the use of improvisation to provide affirmation, validation, and support. This article examines the role of music therapy in the treatment of an 11-year-old girl with PRS in an acute medical setting. It explores how choice provision and improvisation may foster empowerment through the promotion of opportunities for control, validation, and affirmation. Clinical vignettes illustrate how these interventions may establish a therapeutic relationship, provide acknowledgement, containment, and offer a nonverbal form of support for a patient with PRS.

To cite this article: van der Walt, Minky and Baron, Annette. The Role of Music Therapy in the Treatment of a Girl with Pervasive Refusal Syndrome: Exploring Approaches to Empowerment [online]. Australian Journal of Music Therapy, Vol. 17, 2006: 35-53. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=570442136092824;res=IELHEA> ISSN: 1036-9457. [cited 26 Aug 16].

Personal Author: van der Walt, Minky; Baron, Annette; Source: Australian Journal of Music Therapy, Vol. 17, 2006: 35-53 Document Type: Journal Article ISSN: 1036-9457 Subject: Psychotherapy patients; Music therapy for children; Girls--Psychology; Mentally ill children--Treatment; Vocal improvisation (Music); Identifier: Pervasive Refusal Syndrome (PRS) Peer Reviewed: Yes Affiliation: (1) Southern Health, Melbourne
(2) University of Queensland, and Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane

Database: Health Collection