Thesis Title

Speaking of the Unspoken: A Phenomenological Inquiry of Women's Experiences of a First Trimester Induced Abortion Through Particiaption in a Post-Abortion Art Therapy Group

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

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Lisa Manthe, MFT, ATR-BC


This grant proposal, if awarded funding, will lead to the facilitation of a three year phenomenological research study of women’s experiences of abortion. The research will consist of four separate six session post-abortion art therapy groups per year. The controversies surrounding the emotional implications of terminating a pregnancy are driven by political forces and have uncovered mixed results regarding the emotional effects of having an abortion (Littman, Zarcaddolas, and Jacobs, 2009). The amount of conflicting research indicates a need for further studies to examine the emotional responses and the unique experiences of women following an abortion (Coleman, 2011 and Major et al., 2009). Women may experience a range of possible emotions following the procedure. Most women express feeling relief about their decision but other women may experience feelings of guilt and grief over the abortion (Major et al., 2009). The fact is that four out often unintended pregnancies will end in an abortion (Guttmacher Institute, 2011). Due to the highly politicized nature surrounding the topic of abortion, it is this author’s intention that engaging in a phenomenological post-abortion counseling group combined with group art therapy will provide a safe and sensitive environment to explore and illuminate the intricacies of the experience of an abortion.