Thesis Title

Honoring Mothers with Self-Car Through the Use of Art

Graduation Date

Spring 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


Lisa Bjerknes, MD, MBA

First Reader

Laury Rappaport, PhD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Gwen Sanders, MFT, ART-BC


The role of motherhood is changing over the years. Differences in opinions exist whether women should stay at home with their children or whether they should continue working; however, many mothers feel inter-role conflict when going against the societal norm. Nearly half of the mothers today experience feelings of anxiety, guilt, sense of loss, distress, financial strain, lack of social support, high exhaustion, and they find little time for self-care. This qualitative study incorporated a support group model with art therapy to gain insight into motherhood, provide an opportunity for self-care, and to answer how art therapy contributes to self-care in mothers. Findings indicate that art therapy can contribute to self-care in mothers by providing opportunities to: process and facilitate the expression of one’s feelings, become introspective and work on personal development, reduce stress, increase positive feelings of self, and create a focus of conversation for sharing in groups. The findings about the role of motherhood revealed both similarities and contradictions to previous research.