An Arts-Based Phenomenological Exploration of Active Duty Military Spouse Identities Through Abstract Self-Portrait Collages

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Maskowski, Stephannie
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This arts-based phenomenological study explored the personal identities of four active duty (AD) military spouses based on their perspectives and lived experiences in civilian and military communities. Co-researchers engaged in art therapy interventions at a public library in the rural Midwest. The co-researchers were led through abstract self-portrait collage making, a reflective writing exercise, and a group discussion regarding the personal meanings, experiences, and identities related to the content they had created. The visual data were converted to textual data and organized using the expressive therapies continuum (ETC). Through phenomenological methods, the themes developed from the data were as follows: (1) Social connections and coping strategies, and (2) Living the military lifestyle and navigating communities. The social implications of this study are an increased understanding of the experiences of AD military spouses, which may help civilians and professionals develop new perspectives on military life and help inform future military spouse support programs.