Thesis Title

CAS with Art and Chronic Pain: The Effects of Clearing a Space with Art on Women with Chronic Pain

Graduation Date

Spring 2013

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

Amy Backos, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Laury Rappaport, ATR-BC, REAT


This research project studied the effects of Clearing a Space with Art, a Focusing Oriented Art Therapy (FOAT) approach (Rappaport, 2009) on women with chronic pain. It was hypothesized that Clearing a Space with Art would lead to measurable decreases in anxiety, depression and stress, increases in mindful awareness, decreases in pain intrusion and pain perception, and increases in pain accommodation. The study also hypothesized that the practice of FOAT would be perceived as beneficial to chronic pain sufferers thereby promoting its increased use and further research into its benefits.

Research was conducted in a group setting over the course of three sessions. The participants consisted of eight females who experience chronic pain, ranging in age from 32 to 82. Measurable depression decreased, mindful awareness and attention increased, and perceived pain decreased. Additionally, the majority of participants found Clearing a Space with Art to be relaxing and stated it would be a useful tool in their pain management.