Focusing and art as ways to explore the implicit and non-verbal aspects of women’s abortion experiences
University of Western Australia Centre for Women's Studies
School of Arts and Humanities
Spaces and opportunities for women to share, reflect upon, and explore their personal experience(s) of abortion are limited by the stigma and controversy that surrounds abortion in many countries around the world (Kumara, Hessinia, & Mitchell, 2009). My PhD project, entitled Lilith’s daughters: distilling the healing wisdom of women post abortion, is designed to provide such spaces. My project methodology reflects my understanding as a feminist that offering a multi-dimensional listening space is beneficial both to a woman and to her immediate community in a myriad of ways. Foremost is the broadened sense of identity that may develop when a woman has the opportunity to explore her abortion experience(s) in a way that privileges her bodily felt senses. This bodily way of knowing favours the implicit and the non-verbal, and hence uncovers the often previously unexplored, unknown and unexpressed aspects of a woman’s abortion experience(s).
In this paper I will focus solely on the two-stage process that I employed to gather information from women who volunteered to participate in my project. Stage One included 17 semi-structured interviews and Stage Two was comprised of eight Focusing and art sessions with women that I had previously interviewed. The innovative Focusing and art process was developed through my reading of both academic and therapy-based literatures pertaining to the body, as will be demonstrated in the section that follows.