The role of emotion processing in art therapy (REPAT) intervention protocol

Johanna Czamanski-Cohen, Karen L. Weihs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psychological and physical health are known to improve with emotion processing, which is becoming aware of bodily sensations, accepting them as information that can be translated into emotion concepts and expressing them symbolically and linguistically as emotions. Art therapy utilizes the visual arts for processing emotions to facilitate self-expression and communication with the goal of improving psychological wellbeing. The mental health of individuals coping with and recovering from cancer is known to benefit from art therapy. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of the role of emotion processing in art therapy (REPAT) intervention, which is an 8 week, one and a half hour art therapy intervention created to target emotion processing as a primary mechanism of change, through which art therapy has the potential to reduce symptoms (i.e., depression, pain and fatigue) of women coping with breast cancer. To obtain this goal we used template for intervention description and replication (TIDieR) and GUIDance for the rEporting of intervention Development (GUIDED) guidelines for intervention development description, with the goal of ensuring successful implementation for clinical and research use.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1208901
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01NR017186 and the University of Arizona Cancer Center Core Grant 1P01CA229112-01A1.

Funding Information:
To date, REPAT has been implemented with women coping with and survivors of BC. The intervention was first piloted in 2015–2016 with ten BC survivors, and the results of the pilot were published (). Following our successful pilot, we sought funding for a mechanistic study, and were successful in obtaining an RO1 (independent investigator) grant through response to a program announcement with review (PAR)–PAR-14-294- Arts-Based Approaches in Palliative Care for Symptom Management, from the National Institutes of Health Nursing Research institute (NINR; award number R01NR017186). This PAR aimed to support mechanistic clinical studies that would increase understanding of the impact of arts-based approaches in palliative care for symptom management and provide an evidence base for the use of the arts in palliative care for symptom management. It also aimed to support investigation of the biological, physiological, neurological, psychological, and/or sociological mechanisms by which the arts exert their effects on symptom management during and throughout the palliative care continuum. The REPAT study was conducted from 2018 to 2022, and during this time 318 BC survivors were randomized to participate in the REPAT intervention, or a mandala coloring control group. The REPAT study protocol has been published () and can be read online, and the results of the REPAT study are currently being analyzed and will be published and presented in the coming years. Links to published work can be found at .

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Czamanski-Cohen and Weihs.


  • art therapy (AT)
  • depression
  • emotion processing
  • fatigue
  • pain
  • psycho-oncological care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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