Thesis Title

Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy in Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial to Enhance Quality of Life

Graduation Date

Fall 2011

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC


Background: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disabling disease in which the immune system attacks the brain and the spinal cord. Stress has been identified as one of the many factors that can precipitate such attacks. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is often much reduced among individuals with MS, and incidence of depression, fatigue, and anxiety is high. The purpose of this grant is to request funding for a research trial on MS patients that will examine the effects of a mindfulness-based art therapy approach, Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy (FOAT). FOAT is an experiential therapy in which Focusing provides the inner direction while art therapy offers the outer expression to generate a healing response.

Research hypothesis: The study hypothesizes that FOAT will reduce stress therefore increasing quality of life in patients suffering from MS.

Research Method and Design: This is a 6-month prospective, randomized, controlled trial investigating the efficacy of seven FOAT intervention sessions administered every 2 weeks over 3 months using validated repeated measures of quality of life questionnaires on 30 MS participants (15 treated and 15 control MS participants) recruited from the Yale University Multiple Sclerosis Center.