Thesis Title

Menopause: A Rite of Passage Creation of a Menopausal Mask: Honoring Women in Midlife

Graduation Date

Summer 2003

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


Lizbeth Martin, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Gwen Sanders, MFT, ART-BC


Menopause is transition that can have significant impact on a woman’s life, emotionally and socially. A rite of passage can serve to disclose the social and emotional significance of women entering menopause. Mask making was used to symbolize a passage into a new phase of life.

The purpose of this study was to create a menopausal mask ritual, to describe and explore the experiences of five women participating in a two- part workshop led by the researcher and a co-facilitator. Each participant created a plaster cast mask of their face and an art intervention; decorating and embellishing their mask to represent their experience of menopause. The art process in mask making was an effective and meaningful tool in aiding women in understanding their experiences concerning menopause.

The results were obtained through qualitative and heuristic research, including surveys, Individual, group discussions, and mask making. The results indicate that the five women who participated in this study expressed their concerns about menopause. Their concerns centered on losses, physical and emotional challenges and search for self during this important mid-life transition in their lives.