Landscapes of Motherhood

by Julie Herman Lemelin

Landscapes of Motherhood explores the potential benefits of art therapy for pregnant women and mothers with a child under one year old. This research used a second person feminist action research methodology to inquire and analyze the benefits of such an art therapy group. The data collection included the women’s reflections, their artwork, their discussions as well as the researcher’s reflections and those involved in supporting the group (supervision, co-facilitation, thesis advisors, maternity centre, etc.). Art based research and poetic inquiry functioned to deepen the reflexive process of the researcher, which is imperative to the action research model. The qualitative analysis of a six-week art therapy group with six participants, five with a new baby and one pregnant, revealed that art therapy for this population allowed women to explore their new identity and discover the universality of what composes the landscape of motherhood. The participants’ art played a fundamental role in exploring such an intense experience as giving life. Art therapy provided the opportunity to give voice symbolically to unprocessed feelings around motherhood, to discuss the ambiguity of this identity transformation and overall has proven to be powerfully healing and empowering for each woman. Based upon the findings, art therapy as a healing modality demonstrated its value in a support group for new mothers and pregnant women.