Coping with chronic illness is both a challenging and threatening process for patients. Health care professionals need to be aware of situations when a patient's usual strategies are no longer adequate for effective coping. At those times health care professionals are in a primary position to assist patients in managing their illness by discovering coping strategies not previously used, designing ways of controlling new stressors, and using resources not needed before. Coping strategies when effectively used are powerful methods for influencing functioning and well-being. Understanding the processes patients go through when confronted with chronic illness can make health care professionals better able to help patients manage their illness effectively.