Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Robyn Cruz

Second Advisor

Michele Forinash

Third Advisor

Noah Hass-Cohen


Chronic pain is a multidimensional, phenomenological experience, shaped by physiological, psychological, and social factors. Thus, integrative non-pharmacological adjunctive approaches are gaining recognition for addressing the interplay between these factors. Art therapy is one such approach. However, while art therapy and chronic pain research has shown promising results, it remains a nascent area of inquiry and needs to be expanded. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate and illustrate the effects of a multisite, 6-session, manualized art therapy intervention on client-participants’ (N = 31) perceptions of chronic pain and psychosocial comorbidities. The study employed an embedded mixed-methods design. Primary importance was placed on quantitative pretest-posttest data. Results from t-test analysis showed significant decreases in selfreported pain after each session with significant decreases in pain interference, depression, stress, and anxiety after the art therapy intervention. Results also indicated significant increases in self-efficacy following the intervention. Mean decreases in postintervention pain severity were not significant. In addition, 66% of client-participants reported a significant, favorable global impression of change after completing the intervention. Measures of manipulation fidelity were used to ensure consistency across multiple settings. Analysis of fidelity checklist data showed strong adherence to study directives, supporting internal validity and reliability of the intervention. Qualitative data in the form of client-participant artwork and comments were gathered and analyzed to produce central themes that would serve to illustrate and enhance understanding of the client-participant experience. Interpretative phenomenological analysis of client participant feedback produced 4 central themes: opportunity for visual expression of chronic pain, creating connections, relaxation and calming, and enjoyment in the artistic process. These themes confirm findings from the literature and illustrate the effects of specific art therapy approaches and techniques. Overall findings support art therapy as a useful adjunct to chronic-pain treatment regimens.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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