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HELD: A Creative Arts Therapy project for bereaved mums of babies

Oral Presentation

October 14th 2022 at 10:00am

Institution: Hummingbird House - Queensland, Australia


The HELD pilot program was designed as a creative therapies program for bereaved mothers who had experienced the death of a baby under 12 months old, in recognition that these mothers experience a unique kind of grief. The program was designed by a hospice Art Therapist engaging the medium of sewing, which was chosen as a creative therapeutic method to support mums’ grief experiences in ways that traditional talk therapies typically cannot.

Employing a creative-therapy framework/approach, the HELD program invited participants to create (via hand sewing) a soft baby doll small enough to nestle in their hands, which honored their baby and provided a tactile symbol to help connect them with their grief experience. The program was informed by literature and research supporting the use of sewing for therapeutic benefits, stress relief and regulation. In addition, another salient purpose of the program was the opportunity for grieving mums to connect and share a safe space with peers, who understood their unique pain.

The HELD pilot was conducted in 2021 with three cohorts of mothers completing the program. Groups covered 12 contact hours, and for the purposes of comparison and evaluation, were offered in different formats, on different days and timeslots. Participant numbers were kept small (4) for safety and intimacy. The program was facilitated by a professional Art Therapist and processes involved therapeutic interventions while the mothers created their dolls (invitations to sew messages inside, storytelling, choosing significant fabrics etc.). Pre and Post surveys enquired into the mothers’ experiences of their grief and feedback from participants post group indicated positive feelings of re-connecting to their baby, creating something they could see and hold to honour them, and connecting with others who they felt deeply understood by. This presentation will provide a narrative overview, results of program evaluation, and supporting visual documentation.


  • Ms Judy Gordon

    Art Therapist - Hummingbird House Children's Hospice

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