Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Elizabeth Kellogg


This expressive arts therapy capstone thesis explores the efficacy of using a creative arts journal in the exploration and management of chronic pain, as well as the correlative mental health issues that arise from chronic pain experiences. Using a biopsychosocial perspective with an awareness of racial health disparities related to chronic pain, I have provided information about chronic pain from medical and humanistic perspectives with a critical review of the literature that showcases the usefulness of the arts for reducing pain, hopelessness, and depression, and increasing mood, self–understanding, and hope. While research on visual journaling for chronic pain is in a nascent stage, much can be drawn from art journaling research with a variety of populations. In addition, an examination of both the efficacy and drawbacks of pain diaries offers some greater insight into the usefulness of chronicling pain experiences. While there is little discussion in the literature related to the specific utility of the art journal format, an examination of a journal’s purpose as a “container” offers some useful insights. Using an autoethnographic approach, I participated in a six–month visual journaling process to explore my own chronic pain experiences. The results of this self–study included a release of physical and emotional tension due to the externalization of pain, an awareness of coping strategies, and a greater sense of personal validity and visibility, among others.

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