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Art Therapy and Childbearing Issues Birth, Death, and Rebirth

This edited text is the first to initiate a broad conversation on key childbearing issues in the United States through the treatment modality of art therapy. The book is divided into four sections: Pregnancy, Postpartum, Grief and Loss, and Special Topics, and within these sections, the chapters offer diverse and unique perspectives on how art therapy is used with women undergoing various stages of the reproductive process. The authors discuss a range of art therapy topics including the role of transference, attachment, the integration of psyche and soma, trauma and the underlying influence of neuropsychology.

Meant to be an open door for continued future discussions and considerations, each chapter also addresses the shadow motifs outside the collective and cultural norms of childbearing issues, such as subtle psychological challenges, grief and loss, sociopolitical issues, midwifery, menstruation, and disadvantaged populations, including sex-trafficking. Each chapter offers references, research, art therapy applications, and case studies to further highlight key issues. Also included are visual representations from those who participated and benefited from art therapy that was integrated into their treatment. The approachable style will appeal to a range of professionals and readers who will come away with a new awareness of art therapy and how to work with women as they go through this life-changing experience.


“Swan Foster is an organizing voice in the wilderness of women’s political and psychic needs. These authors not only know the experience of art and its transformative value, but also bring this knowledge to women’s growth and development at the crux of the childbearing and mothering experience. Art Therapy and Childbearing Issues is a must read for anyone working in the field, and an inspiring read to the lay person as well.”

— Gayle Peterson
LCSW, PhD is author of Birthing Normally, An Easier Childbirth and Making Healthy Families. Gayle directs the training certification program “Peterson Childbirth Method” and has a private practice in Berkeley, CA.

Art Therapy and Childbearing Issues is a comprehensive collection of writings by outstanding scholars in the field. This timely book is superbly edited by Swan-Foster, a Jungian Analyst, Art Therapist and specialist working with the archetypal/initiatory experiences of women and how identity is solidified by the full circle of matrescence, a term borrowed from anthropology. Swan-Foster’s expertise as an Art Therapist comes across in her selection of contributors with their breadth and depth of topics that show the value of using the expressive arts in work with all aspects of childbearing. This book is an invaluable contribution to the field that will leave the reader wanting more.” 

— Sondra Geller
MA, LPC, ATR-BC, Jungian Analyst and Board Certified Art Therapist in private practice in Washington, DC

“As a woman who experienced trauma in childbirth when medicine was blind to its impact, I welcome this book. As a mother whose daughter’s survival was precarious during pregnancy, I welcome this book. As an art therapist who has treated many women becoming parents, I thank Nora Swan-Foster for editing it.”

— Judith A. Rubin
PhD, ATR-BC, HLM, President, Expressive Media; Author, Introduction to Art Therapy; The Art of Art Therapy

Art Therapy and Childbearing Issues elegantly restores the childbirth process from one of a medically oriented procedure to its rightful place as a vital cosmic and archetypal experience – a profound threshold for the child and parents. The authors thoughtfully contribute their diverse perspectives, which bring forth a wealth of knowledge for the reader. Swan-Foster’s text masterfully infuses the richness of participation in a primordial experience with contemporaneous relevance, a text sure to appeal to art therapists, students, and other mental health clinicians interested in the intersection of imagery and the emergent process of art and life.”

— Michelle L. Dean
MA, ATR-BC, LPC, CGP, Art Therapy Program Director at Cedar Crest College, Co-Founder & Director of The Center for Psyche & the Arts, LLC, and author of Using Art Media in Psychotherapy

Art Therapy and Childbearing Issues focuses on the very beginning: pregnancy, birth, postpartum, loss, palliative care, and mothering. As a trauma therapist working with very young abused children, I found the focus on early intervention immensely practical and hopeful as a preventative tool for a myriad of complex issues that expectant mothers face.”

— Gussie Klorer
PhD, ATR-BC, LCSW, LCPC, HLM, Professor Emeritus, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Author of Expressive Therapies with Traumatized Children and Expressive Therapy with Troubled Children

“Art Heals! Within the art of midwifery care, the Midwife listens deeply to guide and empower the client /family through their life transitions.Midwife means with women.What you are holding in your hands is a cutting edge treasure written by Art Therapist Midwives.It simply and powerfully elucidates how art therapy is the quintessential trauma informed, survivor led healing modality.This book reveals holistic and inclusive tools that will enable you to nourish and sustain your clients as they give birth to themselves on their journey to thriving.”

— Teresa Robertson
CNM-BC, MS, RN, SANE, Adjunct Clinical Professor, Human Trafficking, Denver College of Nursing

“Wow! Beautifully written, powerful words for any art therapist who wants to better understand both the beauty and struggle of the perinatal period.Ultimately guiding us through the windy landscape of childbirth in America.”

— Selena Shelley
MA, LMHC – Psychotherapist, When Survivors Give Birth Trainer, & Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Midwifery at Bastyr University

“This text will surely be used in my own classroom as an example of how to use destigmatizing and agentic approaches that help mothers to explore, cope with, and shape their destinies for generations to come.”

— Aurélie Athan
Ph.D.Teachers College, Columbia University, Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology, Reproductive & Maternal Wellbeing Certificate, New York, NY

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