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Music Therapy and Cognitive Therapy for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) following Epstein Barr infection in adolescents

The research project addresses music therapy as a part of an individually tailored mental training program for young people who have developed Cronic Fatigue Syndrome/ Myalgic Encephalomyelitis 6 months after an acute Epstein-Barr Virus Infection.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME is characterized by unexplained, disabling and long-lasting fatigue, as well as pain, impaired memory, sleep difficulties and other symptoms (7, 9, 12). The incapacity is significant as many patients are absent from school, lose contact with friends, and are physically inactive.

The aim of the study

The research study is an intervention trial including 25 adolescents (12-20 years) and 25 healthy controls of alike age and gender distribution (50 in total). Endpoints include physical activity, symptoms, cognitive function and markers of disease mechanisms (3). The mental training program evaluates from quantitative and qualitative data (semi-structured interviews).

The mental training program

The individually tailored mental training program consists of 10 sessions distributed between family sessions and individual cognitive and music -therapy. (3) Music therapy is individually performed in 4 out of the 10 sessions in the training program. The music therapy approach includes receptive, improvisational, re-creative, and compositional music therapy, in addition to suggested homework such as listening to preferred music and the creation of playlists (1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11).


The research study is a collaborative research study, performed at Akershus university hospital. The primary investigator is professor Vegar Bruun Bratholm Wyller at Akershus university hospital (Ahus). The music therapist is Julie Mangersnes (Ahus), while the professor in music therapy Gro Trondalen (CREMAH) holds a researcher’s role in the project.


1. Bonny, H. L. (1978). The Role of Taped Music Programs in the GIM Process: Theory and product. GIM Monograph # 2. Baltimore, Maryland: ICM Books.
2. CEBA protocol part A – a prospective and cross-sectional study of fatigue following EBV infection (upublisert). Lørenskog: Dept. of Pediatrics, Akershus University Hospital, 2015.
3. CEBA protocol part B – A randomized controlled intervention of a mental training program for fatigue following EBV infection (upublisert). Lørenskog: Dept. of Pediatrics, Akershus University Hospital, 2015.
4. Batt-Rawden, K. B. (2006) Musikk - en nøkkel til indre skattekamre? I:Asgaard, T. (red.). Musikk og helse, Cappelen Akademiske forlag, 221-233
5. Baker F, Wigram T. (2004) Songwriting methods, techniques and clinical application for music therapy clinicians, educators and students. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
6. Bruscia, K. E. (1987). Improvisational Models of Music Therapy. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas Publishers.
7. Evidence-based guidelines for the management fo CFS/ME 8chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalopathy) in children and young adults (2004). London: Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
8. Grocke, D., & Wigram, T. (2007). Receptive Methods in Music Therapy. Techniques and Clinical Applications for Music Therapy Clinicians, Educators and Students. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
9. Nijhof, S. L. (2011) Adolescent Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Prevalence, Incidence, and Morbidity. Pediatrics, 127(5). 1169-75
10. Stene, I. (2009). Musikkterapi som gruppetilbud i ungdomspsykiatrien. I: E. Ruud (red.), Skriftserie fra Senter for musikk og helse (85-100). Oslo: NMH publikasjoner 2009:5.
11. Trondalen, G. (2009-2010). Exploring The Rucksack Of Sadness: Focused, Time-Limited Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music with a Female Executive. Journal of Association for Music and Imagery, 12, 1-20.
12. Wyller, V. B., Reme, S. E., and Mollnes, T. E. (2015). Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalo-myelitis – pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment. Tidsskr Nor Legeforen, 135(23,24), 2172 – 2175.

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Published: Feb 6, 2018 — Last updated: Jan 11, 2021