Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education




Dr. Susan Rodger


The current study explored, through the use of art in group therapy and within the theoretical framework of Relational Cultural Theory (Jordan, Kaplan, Miller, Stiver & Surrey, 1991), the relational experiences of women who have survived Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). A total of 10 women took part in two iterations of the six week art therapy experience. Three research questions guided the study: 1) How did the participants experience art-making and group processing?; 2) How have the participants been affected by the trauma of their IPV experiences?, and; 3) What are the meaning and value of healthy relationships to the participants? Artwork was processed in group. The verbal processing was digitally recorded, transcribed, and analyzed based on Colaizzi’s (1978) phenomenological design. From a total of 708 significant statements extracted from the 12 verbatim transcripts, six themes emerged : art as a transitional phenomena, trauma, intimacy, freedom, nurturing, and voice. Results indicate that art gave women

who have experienced violence a way to be ‘seen and heard’, the group experience provided women an opportunity to develop growth-fostering connections, and helped women feel less isolated. Implications for counselling practice and research are discussed.



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