Increasing Hope: Using Cognitive Behavioral Art Therapy and mindfulness with Patients with Chronic Pain

Graduation Date

Spring 2015

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

Jennifer Harrison, PsyD, DAAETS, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Michael Jadali, DO, RPH, FAAPMR


This research examines how the healing process in chronic pain patients can improve through a practice of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in combination with a mindfulness activity. Specifically, the project measures how the cognitive restructuring of a negative thought into a positive thought followed by making or coloring a mandala or writing a journal entry reduces pain and increases hope in people with chronic pain. The outcome of this thirty-day research study demonstrated that hopelessness and pain levels fell as a result of the CBT practice with mindfulness-art therapy or journal-writing. Although the anticipated changes did not prove to be statistically significant in all research scenarios, participants making more than the average amount of mandalas did experience a moderate statistically significant increase in hope. Increased hope supports the healing process. This research sparks further inquiry into the beneficial nature of a daily practice of checking one’s cognitions and switching these beliefs up for a more positive position coupled with the art therapy intervention of mandala-making.