MS Monterey – Multiple Sclerosis – Education

art with sophie
art with sophie
art with sophie
life branches logo

MS Monterey offers Art Classes once a month, facilitated by Sophie.

This group provides a space for members to express themselves creatively using a variety of art media. Sophie views herself as a fellow creative explorer and facilitates the artmaking process while viewing the group members as experts of their lived experience and their artistic processes and artwork. A prompt or directive is provided at each session, but members are also given freedom to create how and what they wish. Sophie aims to foster an atmosphere of safety, compassion, creativity, and resilience in the group.

About Sophie

Sophie Restall, pictured above along with samples of her artwork, is a Clinical Psychology and Art Therapy master’s student with a passion for using creative expression to help people flourish. She has experience facilitating artmaking with a variety of populations and ages within therapeutic, educational, and community settings. Sophie believes in honoring each individual’s unique lived experience. Her personal favorite forms of creative expression are acrylic abstract painting and wheel thrown pottery.

life branches logo


Life Branches, a nonprofit educational organization, is currently conducting Life Skills classes for MS Monterey. Meeting once per week, via Zoom, with Ellen Scherr of Life Branches, the group is covering a wealth of topics that are practical and designed to lead to greater personal freedom for each participant (See list of topics).


Life Branches was formed to provide counseling, emotional support and guidance to patients living with chronic diseases. The goal is to teach patients how to cope with their diagnosis and overcoming emotional hurdles when faced with medical challenges.

Living with a chronic disease often feels impossible. Just getting out of bed can be a struggle. It is hard for others to understand that you may, in some cases, look okay on the outside, but suffering or in pain on the inside.

Life Branches provides free emotional counseling, involving peer support and methods to manage the social and emotional impact of your disease. Using sponsorships from companies allows Life Branches to provide all services at no cost to participants.


Ellen Scherr is a Board Certified Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) with an M.S. in Counseling. Says, Ellen: “I’ve spent many years working in hospital settings, private practice, and with Patient Advocacy at a pharmaceutical company. I am now turning my education, experience, and passion to help individuals, and their families with chronic diseases improve their lives.”


This list is a summary of the most basic needs of those with MS*. We select topics for each class based on the interest and needs of those who are attending.

Forming a medical support team
Managing medications
Living alone
Living with others
Socializing with others with MS
Socializing with family
Dealing with depression
Dealing with anxiety
Mobility – canes, walkers, wheelchairs
Transportation – public and private
Responding to hurtful remarks
Handling fatigue
Becoming resilient
Prioritizing personal values
Asking for help


ellen - life branchesTestimonials about Ellen’s Life Skills Classes.

“I enjoyed four group [ZOOM] encounters with Ellen.  She is very informative, listens so well that she found internet resources for our ongoing consideration. I was very impressed how she could change to an apropos topic when her listeners reached a dead zone. Thanks Ellen, may wind be in your sails!”

“I benefited greatly from Ellen’s Life Skills classes. The topics were excellent and the discussion was personally very helpful. In some cases, life changing! I loved the interaction with others and also the resources provided by Ellen. I highly recommend Ellen and her online Life Skills classes!”

“I gained insight from Ellen’s examples and personal experiences of participant. I appreciated and was touched deeply by the honesty of those attending the Life Skills group. The many resources Ellen provided both, during and following the group emails were very helpful. Please continue to offer you Life Skills Zoom sessions!”

“I found Ellen so refreshing. She is honest, transparent and real and thoroughly likable. I think you could pretty much talk to her about anything. She also had good ideas that were helpful. I think it was very, very kind of her to take the time to listen to us and give us feedback.”

“It really felt like all of us who participated found some skills that we could use in our lives.”

“It was an excellent series and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was also very informative.”

“Ellen is one of those unique individuals who radiates compassion, intuitive understanding, and backs it up with energetic kindness. Not just the polite type of kindness, but a much more involved effort to find solutions, eliminate suffering, empower those of us who are trying to navigate life while dealing with a Rare Disease. Ellen’s Life Skills Classes are an extension of her compassionate way of viewing those around her. Fast paced, interesting and, at times, life changing – this is a series of classes not to be missed. Anyone who comes under her charge would not only be fortunate – they would be blessed.”

“The Monterey Parkinson’s community thanks MS Monterey for including people with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological conditions in their classes and activities.” 
~ Barbara Rosenthal, MPSG